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Compound Page Numbering

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Compound Page Numbering.

Jonathan wondered if there was a way to use two page-numbering schemes within the same document. He has a document that is made up of several sections, and he wants a running header similar to the following:

Page: 27    Effects of Product A and Product B (Page 1 of 5)

The page number at the left is the absolute page number for the document, and the page numbers at the right represent the relative page number and total number of pages in the current section. It would seem that such numbering would be possible, particularly since the same sort of numbers routinely appear on Word's status bar.

Not so, however. The page numbering used in Word is a section attribute. This means that you can control the page numbering on a section-by-section basis, but you cannot have two distinct numbering schemes in the document. At least, Word does not provide distinct fields that you can use for such a purpose. These are the only page number fields provided by Word:

  • PAGE. This field indicates the current page number. If you don't modify it (by restarting it for the current section or changing the starting page number), then it represents the current page number for the document as a whole.
  • SECTIONPAGES. This field indicates the total number of pages in the current section. If your document consists of a single section, then it represents the total number of pages in the document as a whole.

Using these two available fields, it is impossible to do what Jonathan wants, since he needs a third field—one that represents the absolute page number for the current section.

There are, fortunately, two workarounds you can use to accomplish the desired result. The first workaround involves the use of the SEQ field, and the second involves the use of PAGEREF fields. The workarounds are quite involved, and the details are best deferred to the Microsoft Knowledge Base. If you are using Word 97 you can use the following article 155199:


If you are using Word 2000, you should instead refer to article 212313:


If you are using Word 2002 or Word 2003, you should refer to article 291283:


It would seem that Microsoft could avoid such lengthy workarounds if they would simply add a field that returns an absolute page number for the current section. Oh, well.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1597) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Compound Page Numbering.

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Comments for this tip:

Jessica Letteney    30 Apr 2012, 09:47
Related to differing page # schemes by section: I often number frontmatter pages (title p, TOC, etc.) with lowercase roman numerals. Then I start on page 1 with Arabic numerals. HOWEVER, if I want to print, say, the first 20 pages of my document (i-v + 1-13) and I specify to print pages 1-20 in the Print dialog, I always get weird results. My workaround is to PDF then print, but I'd prefer not to take this extra step. Suggestions?

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