Basic Book Design/Headers, Footers, and Page Numbers

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Keeping Out of Trouble Rules[edit | edit source]

  1. Use a running header for the text section of your book
  2. Don't use footer in books, except for drop folios.
  3. Put the page number at the outside margin of the running header
  4. Put the chapter title in the recto (right-hand) running header.
  5. Put the book title in the verso (left-hand) running header. (unless your book includes two levels of classification i.e. "parts" In this case the higher level classification should go here.)

Definitions[edit | edit source]

running header
drop folio

Header and Running Header[edit | edit source]

To a typesetter, a header means a chapter or section title. What your word processor calls a header is called a running header by a typesetter.

Folios[edit | edit source]

Page numbers (called folios) should start with the first page of text as page 1. If you have excessive front matter (e.g., a six-page foreword), use lower-case roman numerals (i, ii, iii…) to number the front matter.

Page numbers should be placed at the outer margin of the running header. Use a font family distinctive from the text font family, e.g., Helvetica for the running header if your text is Times Roman. Also use a font size distinctive from the text font size, e.g., 10 points for the page number, if the text is 12 points.

The Chicago Manual of Style (1.94) advocates not putting the book title in the verso (left hand) running header. They reason that your readers don't need to be reminded what book they're reading. However, if a reader photocopies your book and the title is in the left hand header the title will show on each copy.

Put the chapter title in the recto (right-hand) running header. Tab in one-half inch from the verso left margin to start the book title. Tab back one-half inch from the recto right margin to end the chapter title.

Use the same font for the running header and the page number. Leave a space between the header and the text. A large space is unnecessary if your running header looks distinctive from the text.

I guarantee that at least once you'll change a chapter title, and then forget to change the running header (i.e., at least one running header won't match the chapter title). To avoid this problem, insert the running header as a cross-reference. In the page layout program Adobe InDesign click inside the text frame where you want the chapter title to appear. Open the Cross-Reference panel and click the New Cross-Reference icon. Use the controls in the dialog box to choose the paragraph style that has formatted the chapter title. Click Save to close the cross-reference dialog box. You can also use the Text Variables to insert Running Headers based on paragraph styles on the document pages. This allows you to have the first name of a list on the verso page to appear in the header and the last name of a list on the recto page appear in the header. While there are many uses for this feature, a typical one is for alphabetical lists of employees to show which names are included between the first and last entries on each spread.

In Microsoft Word, open View… Header and Footer. Click in the running header. Open Insert…Cross-Reference. Select Header and Header Text. Select the appropriate chapter title and insert.

Use a professional page layout program for the best control over text placement. If you are using a word processing program, you may need to avoid using a footer if you want to minimize printing costs. Put all the necessary info into the header. Check with the print shop that will be handling the printing of your documents.

First Page of Chapters[edit | edit source]

The first page of each chapter should not have a header.

In Microsoft Word, at the start of each chapter, don't use a page break. Instead use Insert>Break>Section Break (New Page) to start a new section. Then use View…Header and Footer… Different First Page (the icon has a numeral 1 in it) to remove the header from, and possibly add a footer to, the first page of each section.

On the first page of each chapter, the page number is centered in the footer. This is called a drop folio. Don't put anything else in this footer.

In Microsoft Word, this puts a page number at the bottom of your title page. To remove it, select the first footer after your title page and turn off "Same as Previous." Then delete the page number on the title page.

I said that the bottom margin should be one-half inch. The drop folio is an exception to the rule. Put a drop folio a quarter-inch from the bottom of the page.