Headers and Footers

Headers and Footers are single lines of text that appear above or below the pages of a book. They help give readers a reference point regarding sections and chapters.


Headers are displayed 0.125” (3.1mm) above the content of a book. If your book has chapter titles, they would be listed on the right (recto) side of the page spread, with the author or editor name listed on the left (verso). When using Microsoft Word to create your page layout, we recommend a header measurement of 0.5” for the 5.5” x 8.5” page size, or 0.75” for the 8.5” x 11” page size. Headers do not appear on blank pages or pages that begin with a heading. Headers are rarely used in image-centric children’s books or art books.

Page Numbers

Page numbers can be added to your book at any point in the design process. Page numbers traditionally do not appear in the front matter, although the front matter may be incorporated in the page count. So, if you have ten pages of front matter, you may wish to start your visible page numbers in your core matter on page eleven. Other people choose to start the first page of their core matter at page one.

Page Number Placement

Traditionally, page numbers are placed at the bottom of the page. Centering page numbers is the easiest option. Alternatively, you can set your page numbers to the outside of the page. However, if you want your page numbers to be offset, remember that when a book lays open there is a page number on the left and a page number on the right. If you set up your document with all page numbers set solely to the right or left side of the page, you will have some numbers get lost in the spine.


Footers are sparser in displaying information. Reference books may include alphabetical or topic information here, but most books will only use the footer for displaying page numbers. In this case, the page numbers would be centered on the page and displayed 0.125” (3.1mm) below the content. As with the header, we recommend a footer measurement of 0.5” for the 5.5” x 8.5” page size, or 0.75” for the 8.5” x 11” page size when setting up your pages in Microsoft Word. Footnotes should not be placed in the footer area of a page. Instead, they should appear above the footer in the content area. Footers do not appear on blank pages.

Sizing and Style

Headers and Footers should be 15% to 20% smaller than the text as they are not meant to be read on every page. They need to be large enough to read, yet small enough to not be confused as the text content of the book. Small uppercase lettering is good for page headers. It gives enough emphasis to distinguish between headers and content and allows the lettering to be both small and legible.