In a document I'm preparing, I have the following sections:

  • Cover page, table of contents, introduction, etc. -- portrait orientation
  • The second section, some challenges -- landscape orientation due to space limitations
  • Third section, some recommendations -- portrait orientation again.

I use section breaks to accomplish the different page orientations.


While the section breaks work well for orientation, it looks like they throw off MS Word's Table of Contents, which starts over at page 0 for each section:

Table of contents, starting at zero for each section


How can I get MS Word Table of Contents to ignore section breaks for the purposes of page numbering, so that I can have continuous numbering of my pages?

5 Answers 5


Figured it out!

The key here is that each section of a document has its own page number configuration settings. Therefore, you have to set the page format within each section of the document.

If you have a document, do the following for each section:

  • In the section, click into the header or footer of the section.
  • In the Header & Footer Design Tools menu, select Page Number --> Format Page Numbers...
  • In the Page Numbering section, select "Continue from Previous Section".

Once you adjust this setting for each section, your page numbers will again be continuous as you'd expect them to be.

Note: this answer applies to office 2013 (and likely 2010/2007), but your mileage may vary.

Edit by G. Derrick Hodge: Note there is one limitation to be aware of. This solution does not work in certain cases if there are multiple sections on one page. If a page number looks to the previous section for its page numbering cue, but the previous section is in the middle of the same page, then there will be no page number on the bottom.

  • 2
    10k views and 1 up-vote -- makes me wonder if the answer is actually helpful. :) Feb 17, 2015 at 16:05
  • 3
    Sean, it is useful, people just don't upvote...
    – msanford
    May 6, 2015 at 17:38
  • I did this in Word 2013, but when I save, close and re-open the document the Page Numbering setting resets to "Start at 0". :(
    – EM0
    Jan 24, 2016 at 11:10
  • I would also recommend unchecking "Different First Page" if like me you used a cover page with different footer.
    – Bibz
    Jun 20, 2018 at 14:38
  • you betcha, just solved my problem! Jul 29, 2019 at 12:20

To expand on SeanKilleen's answer, you can use Ctrl+A to select all content in the document, then navigate to the "Insert" tab, "Header & Footer" panel, "Page Number", "Format Page Numbers…", "Continue from previous section". This way you do not need to navigate to each section. I just did this in a doc with 127 pages - lots of formatting and 28 sections – all updated in one pass.

  • This is the key! If you don't "select all", working each section will just revert back to repeated numbers. Do this and it's fixed.
    – bitfiddler
    May 16, 2016 at 14:57

This answer is not for the initial user but for any subsequent users who wish to figure this out. It builds on the first response.

In addition to what is said in the first response:

Step 1: Click on the 'crotchet button' to see the formatting tabs, returns and breaks Scroll down to find the beginning of each section

Step 2: Select the page number at the beginning of each section Look at the header-footer toolbar and check to see that the options of 'different first page and different odd & even numbers' are not checked - if checked this will confuse the numbering of the computer

Step 3: Highlight/select and right click on the number and go to format number - check to see that in the first section - the option for start at is specified as you wish and in subsequent sections to see that the option 'continue from previous section' is selected

Step 4: Close header and footer and select/highlight the pages from the first section (excluding the cover page) to the last page that you wish to have a page number Click on insert page numbers and select the format you wish

This should give you continuous numbering

If you wish to have different numbering for different sections (e.g. romans in the first parts and Arabic numerals in sections that follow) - go to the particular section break that you wish to be your 'watershed break'. In step 3 above make sure that 'start from' is selected instead of 'continue from previous section'. In step 4 above, select only the first section and insert numbers in the desired format. Then select the next section and insert the 2nd format that you desire

Finally, automatically update you table of contents and there you have it

  • 1
    Thanks for the additional information on this question, Stephen. Do you think it would be helpful to update my original answer to include this information and some screenshots? May 14, 2015 at 13:52

In addition to SeanKilleen's answer, and to also fix the issue mentioned in the edit by G. Derrick Hodge:

The following macro sets the page numbering of all sections in the document to "Continue from Previous Section". This also fixes the issue of an "unselectable" section in pages that contain two or more section breaks (e.g., when using "Continuous" section breaks).

For Each s In ActiveDocument.Sections 
  With s.Headers(wdHeaderFooterPrimary).PageNumbers 
    .RestartNumberingAtSection = False 
    .StartingNumber = 0 
  End With 
Next s

If you're using the pre-built Table of Contents feature in Word, you want a manual table instead of an automatic one, then you can enter the page numbers yourself.

Edit: I apologize that I did not remedy the problem as per the original question, but I hope this is a sufficient answer for you to get the job done if it is time-sensitive.

  • @Wutanut, thanks for the attempt at least. I'm aware of the ability to do manual page numbers, but the document will go through several revisions and they'd get out of sync quickly (it's a 40+ page document). Additionally, the page numbering in headers/footers is starting over at 0 in the doc itself, too. I'm hoping someone can inform us how to do this naturally in Word. Apr 14, 2014 at 22:28
  • @Wutanut, I figured out the way to do it naturally -- see my answer to this question for more information. Thanks for your initial help! Apr 14, 2014 at 22:37
  • 1
    @SeanKilleen Well done, and thanks for not flaming my miss of an answer. It's a learning experience for us all.
    – Wutnaut
    Apr 15, 2014 at 14:45
  • No worries. You attempted to answer with the knowledge you had, and if I hadn't discovered my answer, I would have made yours work. The threshold for answers can be pretty high around here sometimes but I appreciate your willingness to help out. Welcome! Apr 15, 2014 at 19:33
  • This is not a reason to use a manual TOC. See my writing on page numbering in Word. addbalance.com/usersguide/sections2007.htm#PageNumbers and the macro given earlier works well. Then you just restart the page numbering where you want. It is incorporated in my free Add-In addbalance.com/word/download.htm#ContinuousPageNumbering. Apr 14, 2021 at 23:27

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