Start Page Numbers at a Specific Page in Word 365, 2019, 2016 & 2013

Picture the scenario, you’ve written your next report in Microsoft Word and the cover page, terms of reference and contents are showing page numbers on them… you may have been able to remove the page numbers on those pages but now the first page of the report is showing “Page 4”.  How do we fix that?

In this guide we’ll take a Word document and have two un-numbered pages at the start, the third page in the document we’ll have as “Page 1” and so on.  We’ll also have our table of contents showing the correct page numbers. I’ve also created a video demonstrating this, which is shown below. An updated video demonstrating this in Word 365 is at the bottom of this post.

Okay, let’s start with our document. I have one now and my desired output is to have the first three pages of the document with no page numbers and the fourth page of the document to start with Page 1.

If I add page numbers the simple way, the page I want to start at Page 1 will show Page 4 as it’s the fourth page on the document.

Below are the step by step instructions to avoid this;

  1. If there are page numbers on the document already, remove them.
  2. Go to the page we want to consider as Page 1 (In my example, this is the forth page in the document) and move the cursor to the very start of the page, this may be at the start of the heading or the start of the first word on the page.
  3. From the Page Layout tab, select Breaks followed by Next Page.
  4. From the Insert tab, select Page Number followed the the style of page number you’d like to use in your document.  You may notice that at this time the page numbers are showing how they normally would and not how we’d like them to – don’t panic… continue.
  5. You’ll notice after inserting page numbers that you are now on the Design (Or Header & Footer) tab, the Link to Previous option will be highlighted – select this to un-highlight it.
  6. Ensuring you are still on the page you wish to consider as your first page, go back to the Insert tab again and select Page Numbers followed by Format Page Numbers.
  7. At the bottom of the dialog box, change the Page Numbering option to “Start at” and insert the number 1 and select OK.
  8. You’ll now notice that the page you wish to show as Page 1 shows this and the others look good too however the pages prior (First page in document) still show their old page numbers.  To fix this, simply select one of the previous pages and delete the page number – you’ll notice that the page numbers have been removed from the first pages but remain on the pages we wish.
  9. If you have a table of contents on the document – this should now be updated.

11 thoughts on “Start Page Numbers at a Specific Page in Word 365, 2019, 2016 & 2013

  1. Dear Chris – would it be possible to contact you by phone please? I am struggling with page numbers and I have tried so many suggestions – none are working – I have changed orientation of one of my pages from portrait to landscape – I just can't figure out how to correct the page numbers. I am due to submit my PhD transfer document tomorrow (today is 17 Jan)!
    With kind regards and many thanks

    1. Sorry Sharon – I've just picked up your message. I hope you got this resolved. Usually I'd recommend speaking with someone in the university library as they can be very helpful with this type of stuff.

  2. Thank you I was getting so frustrated. Followed a couple of articles, did what they said and still did not have the correct page numbers. The blog helped me more than the video because I missed a step in the video. I now have the correct pagination.

    thank you

  3. It worked. I watched another video and the person was going super fast even though I rewound it a few times. I tried your video out, and it was perfect. Thanks you.

    1. Thank you Wanda. I thought the step-by-step instructions would also help those who struggle with the accent.

  4. Thank you! I finally got it. I must not have been following the instructions exactly, because I couldn't get it to work right away. I was dismayed, as other people seemed to be sailing through the instructions! I might have had a misplaced cursor when I was trying to insert the page number into Section 2. I feel I know my way around the ribbon and tool bar a little better after going through what you taught. Thank you so much!

  5. I’ve tried it 10 times and it does not work for me. I even tried some variations just to see if they would work. I can not get it to start numbering on page 7. I inserted the page break as instructed (other instructions don’t include this step but they didn’t work either. It did not insert a page break on any other page and I’m not sure why you did that in your video. I have Word 2019

    1. Can I check Calvin, did you un-highlight the “Link to previous” button from the Design or Header & Footer tab after inserting page numbers? This is often an issue.

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