Getting Page Number Formatting Changes to Stick

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated May 17, 2014)

When Meredith right-clicks the page number in the header and changes the font and font size, then she clicks back off of the format pane, the font and font size go right back as if she had never made a change. She wonders what she needs to do differently to change the font and font size of the page number in the header.

There is any number of reasons that this could be happening. In order to examine the reasons, it is important to realize that for most versions of Word there are two ways a page number can be added to a document. First, you can add the page number within a text box or, second, you can add one as part of a header or footer on the page, outside of a text box.

If you choose Page Numbers from the Insert menu, you tell Word to insert a page number within a text box in the header or footer area of your document. If you subsequently click the text box holding the page number, and then try to apply formatting, it won't "stick." Instead you have to make sure you select the text of the actual page number (the page number itself) and not just the text box. In that way you should be able to successfully apply the formatting you want. You could, as well, simply forego selecting the text and instead just modify the Page Number style, which will affect the page number as desired.

The other way to add a page number to your document is to use a field. This is the method used if you add a page number using the tools on the Header and Footer toolbar. When you use a field to put the page number directly within the header or footer, then you need to apply the formatting by selecting the entire field used to generate the page number. Make the formatting changes and they should be reflected in what you see on the screen or on your printout.

Regardless of how you add the page number, make sure you actually select the page number before doing any formatting. (Unless you choose to change the Page Number style in the first instance; in that case you don't need to select the page number first.) If you simply put the insertion point next to the page number, without it actually being selected, changing the character formatting will have no effect.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (6958) 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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