Formatting Your Manuscript: Page Numbers and Margins

Last week, I showed you how to double space your manuscript and set up automatic paragraph indents. Today, we'll cover some of the page formatting elements you will need to know, such as:

  • Margins
  • Headers & Footers
  • Page Numbers


Most agents, editors, and publishers request that you use 1 inch top, bottom, left, and right margins. This is simple to do, and these settings are usually the default settings for Word.

  1. Select the Layout tab on the ribbon
  2. Click the dropdown arrow for Margins (appears on the far left of the ribbon)
  3. Choose the Normal setting

Headers and Footers

Page numbers help reviewers keep track of your document. Make sure you check their guidelines for page number placement.  Some people prefer them in the top right corner of the page, others prefer the bottom right corner.  Make sure you do what they ask for.  Don't give them an excuse to reject your submission.

Accessing the Header

  1. Place your mouse in the top margin area of your document page
  2. Double-click your mouse to open the Header section of the page
  3. Select the Header & Footer Tools tab that appears in the ribbon (this tab is only visible when the cursor is in the header or footer)
Note:  Double-clicking in the bottom margin opens the footer.  You can switch between the header and footer by selecting the Go to Header or Go to Footer buttons on the Header & Footer Tools tab.

Page Numbers

Once your cursor is in the header or footer, you can type any information that you want into these sections.  Word automatically sets three tabs in these sections:  a left aligned tab on the left margin, a centered tab in the center of the section, and a right aligned tab on the right margin.  Press tab to navigate between these areas.

The Header dropdown in the Header & Footer Tools tab provides several automated options.  You can use one of them or create your own header or footer.  For instance, besides the page number, you might want to type your manuscript title in this section.

Setting Page Numbers

  1. Place your cursor in the header or footer
  2. Access the Header & Footer Toolbox tab on the ribbon
  3. Select the Page Number dropdown in the Header & Footer group
  4. Choose the desired position and style of the page numbers

Word offers a variety of page numbering features, but this information should help you set up the basics.  If you have further questions, feel free to leave them in the Comments on this post.


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