Headers and Footers in Subdocuments

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 16, 2016)

Word allows you to group documents together in a hierarchical fashion using what is known as master documents and subdocuments. A master document allows you to include different subdocuments that are then printed in the order specified in the master document. A good analogy is the relationship between a book (the master document) and its component chapters (the subdocuments).

Unfortunately, using master and subdocuments has gotten a bad rap among experienced Word users. Using subdocuments can increase the chances of corrupting documents and lead to other problems. These problems seem to be related to the complexity of maintaining a master and subdocument relationship. For this reason, some people advise against using master and subdocuments.

If you want to organize your project using master and subdocuments, you may be wondering how to utilize different headers and footers. For instance, you may have developed your subdocuments as stand-alone documents with their own headers and footers. When you print the subdocuments as part of the master document, however, you may not want to use the subdocument headers and footers, preferring instead the ones defined in the master document.

Conceptually, doing this is relatively easy—with one big caveat. You need to fully understand how headers and footers relate to sections within a document. If you don't you could have problems. Why? Because whenever you insert a subdocument into a master document, Word inserts the document into its own section. Recognizing this, you have two choices. First, you can simply delete the section breaks that are automatically inserted. Then, when you define headers and footers in the master document, these are used in preference to those within the component subdocuments. Second, you can leave the section breaks as they are and define headers and footers for each section within the master document. Doing so overrides the headers and footers within the subdocument in that section where you defined the headers and footers.

The point to remember is that any headers and footers you define within the master document stay with the master document. Any headers and footers you define within the subdocuments stay with the subdocuments. The header or footer used by Word depends on which you are printing—the master document or the subdocuments.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (540) 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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Capturing a Screen

Windows provides a way of "capturing" the image on the screen into the clipboard. You can then paste the image from the ...

Discover More

Picking a Group of Cells

Excel makes it easy to select a group of contiguous cells. However, it also makes it easy to select non-contiguous groups ...

Discover More

Formatting an ASCII Table with Tabs

If you get a document from a coworker that has tabs used to line up tabular information, you might want to change that ...

Discover More

Do More in Less Time! Are you ready to harness the full power of Word 2013 to create professional documents? In this comprehensive guide you'll learn the skills and techniques for efficiently building the documents you need for your professional and your personal life. Check out Word 2013 In Depth today!

More WordTips (menu)

Understanding Master and Subdocuments

Most people use Word to create regular documents that you edit, view, and print. The program also allows you to create a ...

Discover More

Creating a Master Document Using Existing Subdocuments

If you decide to create a master document, it is easy to do by just adding one or more subdocuments to an existing ...

Discover More

Changing Subdocument Status

Creating a system of master documents and subdocuments can help with your productivity. What if you need to change ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is one minus 1?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the menu interface (Word 97, Word 2000, Word 2002, or Word 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.