Create Different Headers in Word

When I first wrote this blog post, Word 2003 was still the predominant version of the program, more commonly used than Word 2007. (And Word 2010 was just a gleam in some Microsoft programmer’s eye…) So I basically wrote the post for users of 2003 and then just posted a brief explanation where to find the same functions in 2007, which was the first version to use ribbons instead of dropdown menus. Over the years, this has been one of the most popular T4L posts but now that 2007 and 2010 are more widely used, I’ve decided to spell out the steps for those versions in full. You can still find the instructions for Word 2003 and earlier versions later in the post.

NOTE: I’ve never had Office 2013, so I can’t say if there are any differences for that version, but I now have Office 2016 and the process is exactly the same, so it’s a good bet that it is for 2013 as well. (If you have Word 2013 and there is any difference, please post a comment below and I’ll add that info here.)

Both sets of instructions are for creating different sections in an MS-Word document so you can change the header for each section. For example, you might want to have different headers with each chapter name to help readers find the section they’re looking for more quickly.

Note: The same techniques work for creating separate footers, which you might want to do to start Page 1 after a Table of Contents, for example.

Section Break vs. Page Break

You may already know that you can force a page break by placing your cursor in front of the text you want to start on the next page and pressing Ctrl + Enter on your keyboard. (And if you don’t know that, consider this a bonus tip!) 🙂

However, that won’t work for our purpose. We don’t want to just move the text to the next page; we want to start a new section so we can create a new header.

Instructions for Word 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016

Put your cursor at the start of the text you want to start a new section.

On the Page Layout ribbon, click the down arrow beside the Breaks button. (In Word 2016, the ribbon is just called Layout. I don’t know which one it is in 2013.)

Select Section Breaks > Next Page.

Now the text is at the top of the next page.

Move your cursor near the top of the page and double-click to display the Header area.

NOTE: Some readers have reported that if they create a Header section using the Insert > Header command and choose anything other than the Blank option, the instructions don’t work. I’m not sure why this is as it works for me, but if you are still having problems after following these steps, try changing the Header format to Blank.

The Header and Footer Tools Design ribbon has opened at the top of the page. You can see that the Link to Previous button is depressed, meaning the two sections will have the same header. (You can also see a Same to Previous tab on the bottom border of the header section.)

Click the Link to Previous button.

The Same as Previous tab is now gone from the header section.

Type “Section 2 Header” in the header area.

Double-click in the main text area of the page.

This will close the header section and remove the toolbar. The new header appears at the top of the page.

Now, if you scroll back up to the first page, you can see that the header is still blank, because the two headers are no longer linked. You could also enter text into the header area and it wouldn’t change the header on the next page.

Simply repeat these steps for each new section and you can have as many different headers as you want.

Instructions for Word 2003 and Earlier Versions

Note: The screenshots below show a document I used when I wrote the original post. I no longer have it and I no longer have Word 2003, so I can’t update the document. But the dialog boxes should look the same.

Put your cursor at the start of the text you want to start a new section.

From the Insert menu, select Break.

In the dialog box that comes up, select the “Next page” radio button from the “Section break types” area.

Now the text is at the top of the next page. You can tell it’s also the beginning of a new section by looking at the status line at the bottom left of the Word window.

From the View menu, click Header and Footer.

The header section of the page will display and the Header and Footer toolbar also appears.

You’ll notice, above the header box, it says “Same as previous.” This is the default option for when you create a header, and that’s what we need to change.

Click the Same as Previous button on the toolbar.

You can mouse over the buttons to see the names of them. You want to click it so it doesn’t look like it’s depressed.

The “Same as previous” text is now gone from the header box at the top of the page.

Type “Section 2 Header” in the header area.

Double-click in the main text area of the page.

This will close the header section and remove the toolbar.

Now, if you scroll back up to the first page, you can see the header is still blank, because the two headers are no longer linked.

Simply repeat these steps for each new section and you can have as many different headers as you want.

You may also be interested in:

Save Text Snippets to Easily Reuse in Microsoft Word

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Elizabeth Kricfalusi

View Comments

  • It is the EXACTNESS that is crucial, essential. i have also discovered that it is essential to remove previous page or section breaks.
    1. Remove any previous page or section breaks between last section and new section
    2. Cursor at the start of the text
    3. Select section breaks > next page.
    4. Move your cursor near the top of the page and double-click to display the header area.
    5. First click the Link to previous button.
    6. Then type “your header” in the header area.
    7. Double-click in the main text area of the page.
    8. Type “section 2 header” in the header area.

    Good luck!

  • RE: 'Creating Different Headers in Word'. This was immensely helpful, THANK you so MUCH. I was doing the right things but not exactly as you suggest. Now it is PERFECT x nb this is in Word 10.

  • I did all you've written about changing the Header and disabled Same as Previous but nothing happened. When I double click the page when I want to change the header the previous page will be changed as the second. That's mean when the header of the first page is chapter 1 and I want to change the header of second page. I put the cursor on the first page and go to break and next page it will open second page with new header after that I disabled Same as previous and wrote chapter 2 the first page will not affect but when I double click on the second page then the first and the second page will have the same as chapter 2. What can I do?

    • Hi David.

      Unfortunately, it's hard for me to know what's causing your issue. If you have disabled Same as Previous, then you should be able to have different headers on each page.

      - Elizabeth

  • and after deselectingthe "Link to Previous" go to the header and select "Remove Content Control" then your done .... i hope

  • considering word 2007, for those who claimed that setting different section do not work when modifying the headers don't forget to check if "Link to Previous" by placing your cursor at "Design". If "Link to Previous" is selected... disselect it ... and i hope this is the solution .... thxxx

  • Hi there. My comment is also a question, and I hope you can help as I've been tearing my hair out over this one. I'm told that I can set different styles to different odd/even pages and portrait/landscape headers and footers, therefore giving me 8 different styles needed (odd/even, port/land, head/foot (2x2x2)). This is to prevent users of the template I'm creating from ruining the whole file's header/footers by having the 'Update to match Selection' option toggled.

    Can you offer any advice? I've already lost half a day playing around with this to no avail..



    • Hi Tim.

      I'm not entirely sure what the question is. You'll need to create new section breaks every time you switch between landscape and portrait and delink the headers and footers from the previous section so you can apply different styles to them. You won't need to use section breaks for changes in odd/even pages within the same section because there's a separate command to use different styles on odd and even pages (Under the Design tab).

      I'm not sure if that solves your problem or not.

      - Elizabeth

      • Having played around with Styles a bit more I think I get them now. My last confusion was whether I could have different bits of text in one footer with different formatting (all caps, different fonts/sizes, etc.), all covered by the same style. I see now that the different parts need to have separate styles. Not a problem. :-)

        Thanks for your help.

      • Hi Elizabeth,

        To clarify, I was wanting to apply different styles to all the different types of heads/footers on landscape and portrait pages. I have also since learned that I won't have to worry about odd/even pages.

        The main problem I have is not knowing how to apply styles to headers/footers. Is it the same as applying styles to anything else?

        I couldn't find a way to show what styles are already in use in headers and footers in an existing document. The standard method of showing headers/footers (draft view + setting style area pane options in Display Options), doesn't show header/footer styles.


        • I think after much struggling and reading I've managed to understand how one applies styles to headers and footers, and can now see what style is applied to each selected bit of text. It's not intuitive, but I get it now.

          I don't seem to be able to set one style to several bits of text with different text size, upper/lower case, etc. I guess this is by design and you have to apply multiple styles?


          • I'm not sure how you're applying styles, but here are two methods that are pretty straightforward:

            1 - Put your cursor anywhere in the header or footer and click on the Home tab. You'll then see a Styles section in the ribbon that will have the most recently used ones at the top. You can apply one just by clicking on it.

            2 - Put your cursor anywhere in the header or footer and right-click. A menu will pop up with a Styles option. Click that to open the list of recently used styles.

            As for your last question, are you saying you have text that uses various formatting features and you want to change them to another style? In that case, your best bet is probably to use the Clear Formatting button to get rid of all the old stuff and then apply the style. The button is an A with a small eraser on it.

            I hope that helps but let me know if it's not clear.

            - Elizabeth

  • My comment is a question: my project has 3 footers, but 8 different headers. With each new header, I lose the continuing page # in the footers. Is this an impossible project?

    • Hi Juanita.

      You should be able to keep the page numbering going across different footer sections. You can either copy and paste the page number (including any static text with it, e.g. "Page") from the first section's footer into the same place in the second and third sections or type the same text from scratch in each section. If for some reason it's not showing up as consecutive numbering, right-click on the number and click Format Page Numbers. A dialog box will come up that lets you set whether you want the numbering to continue from the previous section or start at a different number.

      I hope that helps!

      - Elizabeth

      • Elizabeth, thank you for your prompt reply. You totally made my day. You gave me the perfect answer.
        I'm happy now!

        God bless you!

        • Yay! I'm so glad you were able to get it working. And thank you for taking the time to let us know... That totally made MY day. :)

          Happy New Year!

          - Elizabeth

  • Your instructions are helpful, but I am stuck on one thing. For each new section in my document I want no header, but I do want a page number. Later (odd) pages in the section will have the section header. Later even pages in the section will have the overall document title as header. All pages will have the consecutive numbering for the whole document(I know how to unlink each section from the previous ones, for both header and footer. )
    --If I check "different first page" for the section, then Word makes sure that both the header and footer are blank for the first page.
    --If I then try to add a page number to that first page of a section, Word does so--but keeps the number hidden. If i then check "show number on first page", then Word automatically treats "first page" as an "odd page" and the regular oddpage header for that section shows on the first page, too. But I only want the page number to show own that page, not the section header.

    what do I do?.


  • Thanks for this helpful and informative procedure. I was wondering if there is an alternate way of having different headers and footers in the same document. I am trying to put together a reference "book" with an index and page numbers using related, but different documents. By using the section break, it seems to also reset the page numbering, which the creates an index with all pages numbered 1!

    • Hi Mike.

      I'm not really clear what you're trying to do. But you can set starting page numbers at each section break. After you've added a page number, you can right-click on it and select Format Page Numbers. A dialog box will come up that lets you set the starting page number for that section.

      I hope that helps!

      - Ellizabeth

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