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How to start page numbering from a specific page in Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word 2021 logo
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Knowing how to start page numbering from a specific page in Microsoft Word can be beneficial in situations where, for instance, the first pages include a cover page and a table of contents. 

The process can sound daunting. But Word is a part of Microsoft 365, which is among the best online collaboration tools due to its user-friendly interface, so it’s actually a quick process.

The key is to divide the document into sections at the point where you want the numbering to start. Below, we take you through this preparatory step and then detail the commands you must use to start numbering from a specific page. We break the process down into small steps, so even complete beginners can complete this task.

Screenshot of a page number in Microsoft Word

Starting page numbering from a specific page in Microsoft Word is useful when creating professional documents. (Image credit: Microsoft)

How to start page numbering from a specific page in Microsoft Word: Preparation

To number pages starting from page 2 and higher in Microsoft Word, you must divide your document into sections. Section breaks allow you to start numbering different pages beginning with number 1.

Click your cursor at the top of the page where you want your numbering to start. In the top ribbon, click the Layout tab to open a set of commands underneath. Open the Breaks dropdown menu and select a suitable option under Section Breaks. Continuous, for example, leaves the text as is and starts a new section where you’ve placed the cursor.

You now have two sections in your document. The first one contains pages that you don’t want to be numbered while the second section contains pages you do want to be numbered.

Screenshot of Section breaks menu in Microsoft Word

Divide your document into two sections before you start page numbering. (Image credit: Microsoft)

Step 1: Insert page numbers

Start by inserting page numbers for the whole document. In the top ribbon, click the Insert tab, find the Header & Footer section, and click on the Page Number dropdown menu. Choose Top of Page, Bottom of Page, or Page Margins, depending on where you want to insert the page numbers.

Click on the desired location and choose a numbering style, including alignment, bolded text, use of brackets, and more. Your whole document should now have page numbers.

Next, you must unlink the page numbering between the two sections created in the preparation phase.

On any page from the section you want numbered, double-click either the header, footer, or margin, depending on where you positioned your page numbers. A new tab titled Header & Footer should have appeared in your top ribbon with a series of commands underneath. 

Under Navigation, the Link to Previous option should, by default, be activated. Click it to deselect this option. The sections created in the preparation stage should now operate under distinct page numbering.

Screenshot of the Link to Previous option in Microsoft Word

Unlink the page numbering between the two sections by deselecting the Link to Previous option. (Image credit: Microsoft)

Step 3: Choose a number to start page numbering

By discontinuing the numbering between the two sections, you’re now able to start numbering from your chosen page. By default, the page number mirrors the page position in the document. You may wish to change this if, for example, you’re writing a book or an academic paper with a title page or a cover page and want to number your pages starting from 1. 

Click your cursor on any page in the numbered section. Then, either head to the Header & Footer section of the Insert tab or double-click the header, footer, or margin where the page number is. This will open the Header & Footer ribbon. Click the Page Number dropdown and select Format Page Numbers. At the bottom of the menu, type your desired number in Start at and click OK.

Screenshot of Page Number Format menu in Microsoft Word

Use the Format Page Numbers menu to choose which number your page numbering starts at. (Image credit: Microsoft)

Step 4: Remove page numbering from the first section

To finalize the process, you need to remove page numbers from the section that comes before the numbered one. 

Click your cursor on any page in the section that should have no numbering—presumably, the first few pages of the document. Locate the Page Number dropdown within the Header & Footer commands and click Remove Page Numbers. 

Because you’ve unlinked the sections created in the preparation step, the first section should now be number-free. The rest of the document should be numbered, starting with the page separating the two sections.

Step 5 (optional): Change the page number format

You can change the default page number format if you’d like. This is handy, for instance, if you desire a Roman numeral format for an introductory section and an Arabic numeral format for the rest of the document.

To do this, follow the initial instructions from Step 3 to open the Format Page Numbers menu. At the top, the Number format dropdown contains multiple options to choose from, including the ones mentioned above, as well as a letter format and others.

Summary

Starting page numbering from a specific page can make a huge difference to the readability of your document, particularly if it’s an academic or professional paper. 

While it shouldn’t take more than a few minutes, modifying settings for sections and page numbers could get tricky, which is why we recommend breaking your pages into sections before you begin.

Then, you can determine the starting point and formatting for your page numbering in the second section before removing any numbering from the first section.

You can further advance your Microsoft Office knowledge by reading our guides on how to use the Microsoft Office Ribbon, how to insert a tick or a cross symbol in Microsoft Word and Excel, or how to insert and edit footnotes in Microsoft Word.

Ioana holds a BSc in Business Management from King's College London and has worked for over four years as a management consultant in the industries of technology, media and telecoms. Ioana is also a successful entrepreneur, having launched several social enterprises. No stranger to IT and enthusiastic hackathoner, Ioana is also an accomplished fintech, SaaS and B2B tech writer.