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How to Use Headers and Footers in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint

When you want to include details in your document, spreadsheet, or slideshow, yet not distract from the content or take up space, you can use headers and footers. These spots are ideal for things like page numbers or the date, but can accommodate other details as well. This guide walks you through inserting headers and footers and customizing them in Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

Tip: add a table of contents to long Word documents to make them easier to navigate.

Microsoft Word offers the healthiest number of detail options for your headers and footers. From basics to document properties to text or an image, you can add most anything you need.

Add a Header or Footer in Word

You have a couple of options for adding a header or footer in Word. You can choose a preset created by Microsoft or create your own custom header or footer.

Insert a Preset Header or Footer

Using a preset header or footer, you can quickly add page numbers or other details with a simple or attractive design.

  1. To add a predesigned header or footer, go to the “Insert” tab. Select either the “Header” or “Footer” drop-down box in the “Header & Footer” section of the ribbon.
  1. You’ll see several preset options that include a three-column layout, colorful designs, page borders, and specific details.
Header presets in Word
  1. Once you select an option, it will be applied to the document. Select the placeholder in the header or footer to add the corresponding information.
Header preset inserted in Word

Insert a Custom Header or Footer

If you prefer to select certain details, enter your own text, or insert an image, you can create a custom header or footer.

  1. For a header, double-click the top of the page; for a footer, double-click the bottom. This opens the editing mode for the respective areas, along with the “Header & Footer” tab.
Header area in Word
  1. If you want to add your own text, you can simply enter it in the header or footer.
Header with custom text in Word
  1. To insert page numbers, the date and time, document properties, or an image, use the options in the “Header & Footer” tab.
    • Header and Footer: choose a preset option as described above.
    • Page Number: open this drop-down box, and choose the placement of the page numbers, via “Top of the Page” or “Bottom of the Page.”
    • Date & Time: click this button, then choose the date and time format in the window that appears.
    • Document Info: choose one of the options, like “Author” or “File Name,” move to “Document Property” to select a different detail, like “Company” or “Publish Date,” or use “Field” to select a custom property, like “Hyperlink” or “Section.”
    • Quick Parts: open this drop-down box to insert AutoText you’ve set up, or access the “Document Property” and “Field” options.
    • Picture: click this button to insert an image from your computer.
    • Online Pictures: click this button to search for and select an image from Bing via the Web.
Header details in Word
  1. When you finish adding your items, click “Close Header and Footer” to continue work on your document.
Close Header and Footer button

Tip: create a custom table in Word to structure data.

Adjust a Header or Footer in Word

Along with the details you place in the header or footer, you can choose where the header or footer displays and adjust the distance from the top or bottom.

  1. On the “Header & Footer” tab, use the “Options” section of the ribbon to choose which pages should or should not have the header or footer. You can check the boxes for displaying something different on the first page or on odd and even pages.
Header Options in Word
  1. Use the “Position” section of the ribbon to adjust the distance. Enter the measurement you want to use next to “Header from Top” or “Footer from Bottom,” or use the arrows to increase or decrease the measurement in small increments.
Header Positions in Word
  1. If you want to set the alignment, select “Insert Alignment Tab,” enter the details for the header or footer tab, then click “OK.”
Header Alignment in Word

Edit a Header or Footer in Word

Once you add details to the header or footer in Word, you may want to make some changes, such as adding more items or removing details.

  1. Double-click the top of the page for the header, or bottom for the footer. Alternatively, go to the “Insert” tab, open the “Header” or “Footer” drop-down menu, and choose “Edit Header” or “Edit Footer.”
Edit Header in Word
  1. Make your edits, and click “Close Header and Footer” when you finish.

Remove a Header or Footer in Word

If you decide later that you no longer want the header or footer, you can remove it easily.

Select the “Header” or “Footer” drop-down menu on either the “Insert” tab or “Header & Footer” tab, then choose “Remove Header” or “Remove Footer.”

Remove Header in Word

Note: be sure to clean up the data in your Excel spreadsheet before you start your analysis.

The header and footer sections work a bit differently in Excel than they do in Word. One important difference is that you can’t see these sections as you work in your spreadsheet; however, they are visible in the print preview and when you print your sheet.

Additionally, you have more limited options as far as the details you can add.

Add a Header or Footer in Excel

You have two ways to enter the header and footer editing mode in Excel. Once there, you can use the options on the “Header & Footer” tab to add the details.

  1. Either go to the “View” tab and choose “Page Layout” in the “Workbook View” section of the ribbon, or go to the “Insert” tab and choose “Header & Footer” in the “Text” section.
Header and Footer on the Insert tab in Excel
  1. Click “Add Header” to insert a header, or select “Go to Footer” in the “Navigation” section of the ribbon to insert a footer.
Header area in Excel
  1. If you want to add your own text, just enter it in the header or footer.
Header with custom text in Excel
  1. To insert page numbers, the date, the file path, or an image, use the options on the “Header & Footer” tab.
    • Header and Footer: choose a preset detail from one of these drop-down boxes, such as title with page number.
    • Page Number and Number of Pages: click either or both of these buttons to add page numbers and/or the total number of pages.
    • Current Date and Current Time: use these buttons to insert the current date and/or time.
    • File Path, File Name, and Sheet Name: click one or more of these buttons to include the path or name.
    • Picture: use this button to insert a picture. If you add an image, you’ll see the “Format Picture” button available to format the image.
Header details in Excel
  1. When you finish, click anywhere outside of the header or footer, go to the “View” tab, and choose “Normal.”
Normal on the View tab in Excel

Good to know: adding a watermark in Excel is also different than in Word. Learn how to add a watermark to your spreadsheet in Excel.

Adjust a Header or Footer in Excel

It’s also possible to use a header or footer on certain pages, scale these areas with the “Shrink to Fit” feature, or align the details with the margins.

Go to the “Options” section of the ribbon in the “Header & Footer” tab, and check the boxes for those options you want.

Header Options in Excel

Edit or Remove a Header or Footer in Excel

If you want to make changes to a header or footer in Excel or remove one, you can do so easily.

  1. Open the header or footer section for editing as you did to add it, using the “Page Layout” view or “Insert” tab.
  1. To edit the header or footer, simply make your changes.
Edited a header in Excel
  1. To remove a header or footer, remove all of the content from that area.
Removed a header Excel
  1. When you finish editing or removing a header or footer, click away from the area, and select “Normal” on the “View” tab.
Normal on the View tab in Excel

Tip: you can copy text and formatting from Word to PowerPoint in just a few simple steps.

If you want to add your header or footer to PowerPoint, the options are different.

First, you can add a footer to your slides as well as your Notes and Handout pages. However, there is currently no header feature for slides, only for the Notes and Handout pages. To add a header to your slideshow, either add a text box to the top of each slide or in the Slide Master.

Let’s walk through adding both a header and footer in PowerPoint.

If you only want the header on specific slides, simply add a text box to the header section while in “Normal” view. But if you want the same header on every slide in your presentation, it’s best to add the text box to the “Slide Master,” as this will apply it to all slides.

  1. To use Normal view, go to the “View” tab, and select “Normal” in the “Presentation Views” section of the ribbon. To edit the Slide Master, select “Slide Master” on that tab.
Normal and Slide Master on the View tab
  1. If you are editing the Slide Master, select the first slide thumbnail on the left side.
First slide in Slide Master
  1. To add the text box in either view, go to the “Insert” tab and select “Text Box” in the “Text” section of the ribbon. If you prefer to use a picture, choose an option in the “Images” section.
Text Box on the Insert tab in PowerPoint
  1. Draw the text box in the header area in the approximate size you want; you can always resize it later if needed. Enter the text you want to use for the header, and drag the text box into position.
Text box header in PowerPoint
  1. If you’re using Normal view, follow this same process to add the text box to the rest of your slides, or copy and paste the text box. If you’re using the Slide Master, click “Close Master View” in the ribbon, or return to the “View” tab, and choose “Normal.”
Close Slide Master in PowerPoint

To edit or remove a header in PowerPoint, select the text box in either Normal view or Slide Master, and make your changes. To remove the header, delete the text box.

Text box edited in PowerPoint

Adding a footer in PowerPoint is much simpler, as there is a built-in feature to do so.

  1. Go to the “Insert” tab, and select “Header & Footer” in the “Text” section of the ribbon.
Header and Footer on the Insert tab in PowerPoint
  1. When the Header and Footer window opens, select the “Slide” tab. To work with both footers and headers on the Notes and Handouts pages, choose that tab instead.
Footer Slide tab in PowerPoint
  1. Check the box(es) for the items you want in the footer. You can include the date and time, add the slide number, and enter custom text for the footer. To show the footer on all slides except the title slide, check the appropriate box at the bottom.
Footer settings in PowerPoint
  1. When you finish, select “Apply” to add the footer to only the current slide, or “Apply to All” to add it to every slide.
Footer settings Apply buttons in PowerPoint

You can change or remove a footer in PowerPoint using the same window for the initial setup.

  1. On the “Insert” tab, select “Header & Footer” in the Text section of the ribbon. Go to the “Slide” tab.
  2. To edit the footer, simply make your changes. To remove the footer, uncheck all of the boxes.
  3. Select “Apply” or “Apply to All.”
Footer edited in PowerPoint

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my header not showing on all pages in Word?

If you see your header in Word, but only on certain pages, it’s likely you have the option marked to only show it on even or odd pages.

Double-click inside the header section, and select the “Header & Footer” tab. Go to the “Options” section of the ribbon, and uncheck the box for “Different Odd & Even Pages.” The header should appear on all pages in your document.

How can I preview my header and footer in Excel?

Because you only see the header and footer in Page Layout view, you won’t see it as you work on your spreadsheet. To see how the header and footer looks on a printed piece, open the print preview.

Go to “File -> Print” to see the header and footer in the preview on the right (Windows) or left (Mac).

Why can’t I see my footer in PowerPoint?

If you’ve added a footer using the instructions here but don’t see it on your slide, the issue is likely with the Slide Master.

Go to “View -> Slide Master.” Make sure you’re on the “Slide Master” tab, and check the box for “Footers” in the Master Layout section of the ribbon. When you return to your slideshow, you should see the footer.

All screenshots by Sandy Writtenhouse.

Sandy Writtenhouse
Sandy Writtenhouse

With her BS in Information Technology, Sandy worked for many years in the IT industry as a Project Manager, Department Manager, and PMO Lead. She wanted to help others learn how technology can enrich business and personal lives and has shared her suggestions and how-tos across thousands of articles.

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