Turning Off Default First Page Numbering

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 5, 2016)

Judith asked why Word's page numbering defaults to displaying a page number on the first page. When using the Page Numbers dialog box (See Figure 1.) Judith noted that it has the Show Number on First Page check box selected by default. She wants the check box to not be selected by default.

Figure 1. The Page Numbers dialog box.

One would think that the setting of this check box (indeed, any settings in the Page Numbers dialog box) might be saved with the current template. Testing has shown that this is not the case, however. The "defaults" in the Page Numbers dialog box aren't really defaults; they always reflect whatever page number settings you've made in the current document. Try this:

  1. Create a new document.
  2. Choose Page Numbers from the Insert menu. Word displays the Page Numbers dialog box.
  3. Clear the Show Number on First Page check box.
  4. Specify that you want the page number centered at the top of the page.
  5. Click OK.
  6. Save and close the document.
  7. Open a different document, or create another new one.
  8. Choose Page Numbers from the Insert menu. The "defaults" in the Page Numbers dialog box should not look like the settings you made in the previous document.
  9. Dismiss the dialog box.
  10. Open the document you saved in step 6.
  11. Choose Page Numbers from the Insert menu. The "defaults" in the dialog box should look like the settings you originally made for that document.

Because the Page Numbers dialog box represents the settings in the current document, you could load a template (such as the Normal template), make changes to the dialog box, then click OK. The changes are saved, in the template, and will be available every time you start a new document that is based on that template.

If you really want to change the defaults, regardless of what the current settings are in the template or the document, then you need to use a macro. Consider the following macro:

Sub InsertPageNumbers()
    With Dialogs(wdDialogInsertPageNumbers)
        .firstpage = False
        .Display
        .Execute
    End With
End Sub

This macro replaces Word's internal command that is run whenever you choose Page Numbers from the Insert menu. It displays the dialog box, but only after clearing the Show Number on First Page check box. Make this macro a part of your template and it sets the default for you, exactly as you want.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (76) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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