Custom headers and footers can increase the impact and clarity of your documents. This article explains how to create fairly sophisticated headers and footers, containing art work, special Word formatting, and dynamic fields, and then to save them as Quick Parts, so that you can re-use them with ease.
Step 1 is to build the header and footers in the first place. Since we do not want to use one of the pre-existing, pre-formatted Word headers or footers, simply double-click in the header area of your document to place the insertion point there. You will see a Header identifier label appear along with a dashed blue line defining the Header border. You will also see the Header & Footer Tools tab appear in the ribbon.
The insertion point is on the document’s left margin. If you are going to insert art work it can be done at any time, and does not necessarily have to be done as the first chore, even if you want it flush with the left margin. Any header text is formatted independently from any header art work, which exists on its own layer.
For our example, let’s begin by entering some text, the name of our organization, in our case “Palomar College Academic Technology”.
Let’s say we want to enter today’s date at the far right of the document header. Don’t just tab over and type the date. We want it aligned precisely. Click on the Header & Footer Tools tab, click on Insert Alignment Tab, select Right from the Alignment tab dialogbox, then click OK. The cursor will jump to the right margin within the header area.
Now on the Headers & Footers Tools Design tab click the drop-down under Quick Parts, click Field…, select Date as the field, and select the date format you wish to use, then click OK.
Today’s date will be inserted in your header. When you save the document it will retain the date the document was first created unless you click on the date field and choose Update, at a later date.
The header should be set apart from the text of your document and not detract from it. Therefore, I suggest you format the text in your header with a font a couple of sizes smaller than the font size used for the main content in your document, and that you color the font a lighter shade than the color of your main content text. In this example, I chose a grey 9 point italicized version of my main text font to serve as the header font. The information is still very legible, but does not dominate the page or pull the eye away from the main text.
If you wish to add a piece of artwork, like a company logo, to your header, do so by activating the header area (double-click in it) and Picture from the Insert tab. Locate and insert your picture. Size it so that it will not be too dominant. You may need to apply colorations or other artistic effects to tone down the dominance of really prominent logos (i.e., select the picture and choose Color Tools > Corrections, or Color Tools > Artistic Effects).
You will notice that when you insert your picture it is inserted in-line with the header text. Select the picture, click on Picture Tools, click the drop-down under Wrap Text and choose any of the layouts other than In Line with Text. The picture will then act as if it is free-floating on it’s own layer and you can drag it anywhere you wish.
If you want your art work to be flush with the left or right margin, don’t just drag it and guess at the alignment. Use the Align tool on the Picture Tools tab. Be sure Align to Margin is selected and the click on Align Left, Center, or Right, depending on what you want.
Finally, I like to set off headers and footers with a dividing line, so in my example I insert a carriage return after the date field, to add a second line to the header, and with the cursor on the second line I insert a Horizontal Line from the Home tab Paragraph group.
To format the line, right-click it and choose Format Horizontal Line… The resulting dialog box will allow you to control its width, height, color and alignment.
Double click in the footer area in order to create a custom footer. Just as my header contains two significant pieces of information, my organization name and the date, so I want my footer to contain the name of the document and the page number, left and right aligned respectively. I can take advantage of Quick Part fields to enter both.
Since I like to use Word’s metadata features to tag my documents, I add a document title as one of the document properties, and then use the Quick Part field to add it to my footer. Here’s how:
Click on the File tab, select Info, and on the far right of your screen you will see the Document Properties panel. You may have to click Show All Properties to see the Title field. Fill in the title field with the title you want to give to your document. (I also use the title as the name of the file when I first save it).
Once you have added the title, go to the footer area, be sure you are left aligned, and click the Quick Parts drop-down, choose Field… and select DocProperty and Title as the property to use in the footer. (If you forget to create a title first you will get an error message where the text should be. To fix it simply add the title and update the field).
Now insert an right alignment tab (i.e., with the footer active and the insertion point after the title text, select the Header & Footer Tools tab, Insert Alignment Tab, and choose Right—see above for the illustration). Now insert a Page number, in the format you want, from the Header & Footer Tools Page Number Command.
Once again, the entire text in the footer can be selected and formatted in a font size and color that will not distract from the main text of the document and matching the header formatting.
Finally, I add an line above the footer and add another horizontal line, formatted as in the header, so that the text of each page is bracketed and clearly divided from the header and footer information.
Now here is the trick that makes all the work worth it. You can re-use the custom headers and footers you create by selecting them (one at a time, of course) and choosing Save Selection to Quick Part Gallery under the Quick Part drop-down on the Header & Footer Tools tab.
They will be saved, with the names you give them, in what is called the Building Blocks Organizer. After you have saved your document and are exiting Word, you will be asked if you want to save changes to Building Blocks.dotx. You should answer Yes. That will make the headers and footers you have created available to every Word document you create going forward.
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