Headers and Footers

In a document, headers are what they call the standard text that shows up on the top of each page (or every other page). Footers are what they call the standard text that shows up at the bottom of each page (or every other page). What should your book have for headers and footers, and how do you create those?

There are no industry wide standards, but there are common practices. Pick up any random 10 books in your house. You'll find that most of them have page numbers on the pages somewhere :). So page numbers are fairly standard. However some books put those in the top (in the header). Other books put those on the bottom (in the footer).

Sometimes books put the name of the book, the name of the author, or even the name of the chapter you're reading either in the header or the footer. You might wonder why they bother. Surely if you're reading a book you know what its title is and don't have to see it on every single page! It's all about branding. The publishers want to hammer the name of the book home into your brain, so that way when you're talking to others about the book you're reading it's right fresh in your mind.

The standard I use for most my books is to have no footer at all. I only have a header. In that header on the left pages (the even numbered pages) there is the page number on the far left corner - and then the book's title in the center. On the right pages (the odd numbered pages) there is the page number on the far right corner, and the author name in the center.

Headers and Footers

For some of my PDF-style ebooks I have page numbers and the title at the bottom of every page since there is no left or right. Note that I only use page numbers on PDF ebooks where the page size is set. I don't have page numbers on Kindle style ebooks where the page size changes randomly based on the font the user has chosen. But in any case, when you begin your document preparation, you should plan out the header or footer you want.

So, as an example, how would you do alternating page headers, with multiple columns, in Word?

I'm using Word 2010. In that, you click on a page and then use Insert - Header - Three Columns. By default the top ribbon bar will now be showing the "Design" tab. Click to have Different Odd & Even pages. Your headers will now indicate whether they go with odd or even pages. On the odd page, click on the spot in the far right corner, then go to Page Number (in the top left of the ribbon bar) and use page number - current location - simple. Then click on the center spot and type in the author name. Now move through your document to an even page. On this one use the same steps to put the page number in the top left corner, and change the center spot to be your title.

Voila! Your book now has headers that match up with the left and right sides of the pages!

Just click anywhere in the main part of your document to get out of the header editing process. To go back and edit your headers again, just click up in that header area.

The reason I only use a header (and not a footer, too) is to conserve space. I want as many words on a page as possible to reduce the page count, so that the book is as cheap as it can be to buy. A cheaper price means more buyers. Thatís both more fans and more income.

Getting the page numbers correct is important enough that it gets its own page -

Page Numbers


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