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Brennan K. Brown
Brennan K. Brown

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Creating Dynamic Headings and Footers in Microsoft Word

"Art is not what you see, but what you make others see." —Edgar Degas

In the world of independent publishing, artists and writers often face an uphill battle when it comes to legitimacy. Major publishing houses have teams of professionals dedicated to ensuring their books meet the highest standards of quality and presentation. But for indie creators, there's a dearth of accessible guidance on how to make their literary works look truly professional.

From formatting manuscripts to crafting compelling covers and layouts, the technical aspects of book production can be daunting for those without formal training or resources. And in the realm of multi-author anthologies and collected works, the challenges are even greater. Managing disparate pieces, consistent styling, and navigational aids like headers and footers requires a level of Microsoft Word processing wizardry that most writers simply don't possess.

It's this gap—the lack of straightforward documentation for indie publishers—that has spurred the creation of this comprehensive guide. Because every literary artist, no matter how big or small their platform, deserves to have their work presented in a way that commands respect and attention.

Within this post, you'll find step-by-step instructions for taming the complexities of Microsoft Word to produce anthologies with dynamic section headers, proper page numbering across chapters, and a uniform, book-worthy aesthetic. No longer will you have to resign your lovingly-crafted collection to a jumbled, amateurish appearance.

By understanding these techniques, you'll remove one of the many barriers keeping independent artists below the threshold of legitimacy in the publishing world. Your words, bound between these polished digital covers, will earn the credibility they deserve.

Creating a professional-looking literary anthology in Microsoft Word can be a challenging task, especially when it comes to managing headings and footers in a long, multi-author document. This guide will walk you through the steps to set up dynamic headings and footers, ensuring each section or chapter of your anthology displays the correct information.

Setting Up Dynamic Headers with the Title of the Current Piece

  1. Understanding Headers vs. Headings: In Word, "headers" refer to the sections at the top of a page where you can add dates, titles, page numbers, etc. On the other hand, "headings" are part of the text used to structure and title different sections of your document (like chapter or article titles). They are formatted using Word's heading styles like Heading 1, Heading 2, etc.

  2. Inserting Dynamic Headers:
    Dynamic headers automatically update to reflect the title of the current piece or section, making your anthology more professional and easier to navigate.

    • Access Quick Parts:
      • Go to the Insert tab.
      • Click on Quick Parts. This is a tool that allows you to insert reusable pieces of content, including fields that can change dynamically.
    • Find StyleRef:
      • In the Quick Parts dropdown, navigate through the list to find Field.
      • In the Field names list, select StyleRef.
    • Select the Heading Style:
      • In the Field properties, choose the appropriate heading style that matches the style you used for your piece titles. For instance, if your titles are in “Heading 2”, select that style.
      • Inserting a StyleRef field in the header means that Word will automatically pull the text formatted with the chosen heading style (e.g., Heading 2) into the header.
  3. Configuring Header Settings for Each Piece:
    After setting up dynamic headers, you need to adjust the settings so that the first page of each piece or section is treated differently. This is especially useful if you don't want the title in the header on the first page, where it's usually already present.

    • Different First Page Header:
      • In the document, double-click the header area to enter the header editing mode.
      • In the Header & Footer tools, select Different First Page. This allows you to have a different header (or no header) on the first page of each section.
    • Insert Section Breaks:
      • Go to the Layout tab.
      • Click on Breaks.
      • Under Section Breaks, choose either Next Page or Continuous. “Next Page” starts a new page for a new section, while “Continuous” starts a new section on the same page.
    • Maintain Continuous Headers:
      • Ensure that the “Link to Previous” or "Same as Previous" option is enabled for headers in subsequent sections if you want them to follow the same formatting or content.
  4. Handling Page Numbering After Section Breaks:
    Inserting section breaks is a crucial part of managing a long document with multiple pieces or authors, but it can interfere with page numbering.

    • It’s important to note that inserting a section break can reset your page numbering.
    • To manage this:
      • Go to the Insert tab.
      • Click on Page Number in the Header & Footer section.
      • Choose Format Page Numbers.
      • Under the Page Numbering section, select Continue from Previous Section to maintain a continuous page count throughout the document.

By following these steps, you can create a dynamic and professional layout for your literary anthology in Microsoft Word. Each section or piece can have its specific title in the header, and the page numbering can remain consistent across the entire document. Remember, the key to successfully managing complex documents in Word is understanding how to use styles and sections effectively.

Part Two: More Complexity

Continuing with the advanced setup for your literary anthology in Microsoft Word, let’s consider a fictional anthology titled "Whispers of the Ages" created by the "Greenwood Literary Collective". This anthology is divided into four sections (or chapters), and each section contains multiple individual pieces. We'll use "Heading 3" for section titles and "Heading 2" for individual piece titles.

Here's how to set up your headers for this complex document:

1. Structuring Your Anthology:

Imagine your anthology has four sections: "Ancient Echoes", "Medieval Tales", "Modern Voices", and "Future Visions". Each section contains various pieces like "The Old Oak", "Knight's Journey", etc., titled using Heading 2.

2. Setting Up Section and Piece Titles in Headers:

Odd-Numbered Pages:

  • Display Section Name (Heading 2):
    • Double-click on the header area of any odd-numbered page.
    • Insert a StyleRef field (as previously described) and select "Heading 2" for the section titles.
  • Display Anthology Title:
    • After the StyleRef field, type in the anthology title, "Whispers of the Ages".

Even-Numbered Pages:

  • Display Piece Title (Heading 3):
    • Double-click on the header area of any even-numbered page.
    • Insert another StyleRef field and select "Heading 3" for the individual piece titles.
  • Display Institution Name:
    • After the StyleRef field, type "Greenwood Literary Collective".

3. Ensuring Correct Headers on Odd/Even Pages:

  • To have different headers for odd and even pages:
    • Go to the Layout tab.
    • Click on Page Setup dialog box launcher.
    • In the Page Setup window, go to the Layout tab.
    • Under Headers and footers, check the box for “Different odd and even”.
    • Now, you can set up odd and even headers differently as per the steps above.

4. Implementing Headers Across the Anthology:

  • Make sure these header settings are applied to each section of your document.
  • Remember to link or unlink headers from the previous section based on whether you want them to follow the same pattern or not.

5. Troubleshooting and Tips:

  • If a section or piece starts on an even page and you don’t want a piece title there, you may need to manually adjust that specific header.
  • Consistently use Heading 2 and Heading 3 styles throughout your document for section and piece titles, respectively.


  • Section "Ancient Echoes" (Heading 2) starts on Page 1: The header shows "Whispers of the Ages".
  • On Page 2, the first piece, "The Old Oak" (Heading 3), begins: The header shows "Greenwood Literary Collective" and "The Old Oak".
  • This pattern continues throughout the anthology, providing a clear and professional structure.

By following these steps, you can effectively manage complex headers in your multi-section, multi-author anthology, enhancing both its aesthetics and functionality.

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