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Building a Basic Header and Footer

The most important thing to remember about headers and footers is that they're not on the same page with the main text of your document. Instead, it might help to think of each page of your Word document as consisting of two transparencies, one on top of the other. Think of the header and footer as appearing on a separate page that's usually stacked underneath the one containing your titles, subheadings, and body text.

When you view the header and footer by clicking View, Header and Footer, you have effectively moved the header/footer transparency to the top of the stack so that you can work with it. Any text in the body of your document goes gray. At the same time, the Header and Footer toolbar appears. On the other hand, if you move the cursor to click anywhere on the main text page, the header and footer page will close.

These elements are easier to build than they are to explain, so let's create a sample header and footer of the type to make your documents appear well-dressed. I use this kind of thing when I'm caught short without a template for a set of specifications or a report.

To create the header, follow these steps:

  1. On the View menu, choose Header and Footer to open the page where the header and footer are stored and to launch the Header and Footer toolbar (see Figure 3).

  2. Figure 3Figure 3

  3. If it's not already there, place the cursor in the upper-left corner of the header space. Type the company name or insert a small graphic logo.

  4. Tab to the right side of the page and type the name of the project for which you're creating the document.

  5. Press Enter.

  6. Type contact information for your company. In this case, I typed the telephone number.

  7. Tab to the right side of the page and type the document's title or purpose.

  8. Select all the text in the header.

  9. Click Format, Borders and Shading. Click beneath the text graphic to add a line under it, as shown in Figure 4.

  10. From the Color drop-down menu, select a light gray, and then click OK. The resulting header will look much like the example in Figure 5.

Figure 4Figure 4

Figure 5Figure 5

Items such as a rule under the header are document design choices that are coordinated with other document-creation points. For example, if you want to list a web site rather than a telephone number for your contact information, an underline on the web site link might interfere or "fight with" the line you struck beneath the header. In such a case, you naturally wouldn't want such a line in your header design.

To add a footer, follow these steps:

  1. On the Header and Footer toolbar, click the button Switch Between Header and Footer.

  2. On the left side of the footer, type the word Page and press the spacebar.

  3. On the Header and Footer toolbar, click the Insert Page Number button. Then press the spacebar, type the word of, and press the spacebar again.

  4. On the Header and Footer toolbar, click the Number of Pages button. Then tab to the right margin.

  5. Choose Insert, Field.

  6. In the Categories list, select Date and Time. In the Field Names list, select CreateDate; then select the date format you like in the Date Formats box and click OK.

  7. Select all the text in the footer. Choose Format, Borders and Shading.

  8. Click above the text graphic to add a line above the footer, and use the Color drop-down menu to select a light gray.

  9. Save your document, having created a footer that looks like Figure 6.

Figure 6Figure 6

When you create headers and footers, you depend heavily on the use of , whether these are implicit or explicit. For example, those toolbar buttons that insert your page number or the number of pages in the document create fields. The date is another field. But other information in your header might also be handled with fields. If you have clicked File, Properties and filled out the Summary tab for your document, you can insert fields for author name, document title, company name, subject, and so on.

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