While leafing through documents, you would often see page numbers on the bottom of each page—either on the sides or at the center. By numbering your pages, you can tell if you have lost a page. It also lets you know if the pages are in the correct order. Other benefits include allowing you to reference pages or knowing where you are in the document.
In more formal documents, such as a thesis or dissertation, page numbering is particularly essential and, commonly, it starts with the introduction or background. It means that the title, abstract, and table of contents pages are not numbered the way the rest of the pages are. In most cases, the title page counts as page I, but the number is not printed on the page. Meanwhile, the rest of the pages that lead up to the table of contents page are numbered using lowercase Roman numerals.
In this article, we are covering topics such as how to add page numbers to PDF files, the rules in numbering your pages, and everything in between.
How to Add Page Numbers to PDF:
Most word processing programs allow you to automatically add page numbers to your document. This page counting system is built into the template and should instantly display page numbers should you prefer to.
To add page numbers to your Word document, click the Insert tab > Header & Footer > Page Number. A menu will be displayed where you can select the location of the page numbers. It can either be on the top or bottom of the page, page margins, or the position of the mouse pointer. You can move your pointer to your preferred location and select the style you want in the submenu.
In cases where you would like to number a PDF file, you may have to use tools like PDFBear which allows you to add page numbers conveniently. This is without having to convert your PDF into an editable file like Word. While there are no standard rules in the page numbering, there are some generally accepted practices that you can follow when creating the layout for your document.
- Place odd and even numbers correctly.
When you open a book, you would see that pages on the right side have an odd page number, whereas pages on the left side always have an even page number. This is a standard in book printing, which you can also apply in PDF or eBooks.
- Be mindful of where you place your page numbers
Avoid placing page numbers near the inside margin. Imagine if your document is printed and the page numbers are printed close to the spine of the book—that would make it hard to reference the book. Instead, place your page numbers near the outer margin of the page (either on the upper or lower corner) or at the center of the page (either bottom or top).
- Avoid placing the numbers too close to the edge
While you shouldn’t add page numbers near the inside margin, you should also not put them too close to the edge. It can be an eyesore that affects the overall aesthetics of your page layout. But, not only that. When printed, there’s also the risk of getting the numbers trimmed off the final output. For safety measures, maintain a minimum distance of ¼” from the page’s edge.
- Do not number blank pages
There are usually some blank pages within the main body of a book. While they are included in the numbering sequence, it’s not necessary to print page numbers on them. For example, if page 30 of your document is blank, the page before it would be page 29, and the one after it would be page 31. You can leave page 30 without a printed number but that would still count as a page.
- Label preliminary pages with lowercase Roman numerals
Preliminary pages include the title page, dedication, table of contents, preface, and the likes. These will appear before the main body of the book. But, they shouldn’t be included in its primary numbering sequence (1, 2, 3, and so on). As said earlier, they are traditionally numbered with lowercase Roman numerals (i, ii, iii, etc.) However, you can opt to not number them at all. Read more about Why You Ought to Split a PDF Into Smaller PDFs
How to Use Different Page Numbering Formats:
Microsoft Word allows you to customize various aspects of page numbering. While it has a default format for page numbers, you can control how you want them to look in your document in terms of numbering style, format, and position. You can also change the starting page number and adjust it to any section in the document.
Additionally, to use a different page numbering format, you should:
- Include a “Section Break – Next Page” between the sections of the document where you want the numbering to change; and
- Unlink each section’s footer from the page before it.
Using a combination of lowercase Roman numerals for the preliminary pages and Arabic numerals at the start of the main body (usually Chapter I) is usually required in theses, dissertations, and other formal documents.
When Should You Add Page Numbers?
In just a few clicks, you can automatically add page numbers to your document and save yourself from adding them one by one. However, as you work with your document, deleting or modifying some components can affect how the page numbers are displayed. So, to avoid any unnecessary issues, it’s better to number the pages on your document when you’re ready to save it as a final draft.