Numbering pages

The simplest case is to have the page number at the top or bottom of every page and nothing more. To do this, put the cursor in the header or footer and select Insert > Fields > Page Number from the menu bar.

Now the correct page number appears on every page with this page style. If you wish, you can type the word Page and a space before the page number field.

You can align the page number to the left or right, or center it on the page, using the Header or Footer paragraph styles.

The page number appears with a grey background. This background indicates that the page number is a field. This background is not printed. To toggle this feature on or off, choose View > Field Shadings (or press Ctrl+F8), but be aware that toggle field shadings off affects all fields in the file. This gray background will not print or be visible in a PDF.

Restarting page numbering

Often you will want to restart the page numbering at 1, for example, on the page following a title page or a table of contents. In addition, many documents have the front matter (such as the table of contents) numbered with Roman numerals and the main body of the document numbered in Arabic numerals, starting with 1.

You can restart page numbering in two ways.

Method 1:

  1. Place the cursor in the first paragraph of the new page.
  2. Choose Format > Paragraph.
  3. On the Text Flow page of the Paragraph dialog, check Insert in the Breaks area.
  4. In the Type drop-down list, select Page.
  5. In the Position drop-down list, select Before or After to position where you want to insert the page break.
  6. Check With Page Style and specify the page style to use.
  7. Specify the page number to start from and then click OK.

Method 2:

  1. Place the cursor in the first paragraph of the new page.
  2. Choose Insert > Manual break.
  3. Page break is the default selected on the Insert Break dialog.
  4. Insert Break dialog

  5. Choose the required page in the Style drop-down list.
  6. Check Change page number.
  7. Specify the page number to start from and then click OK.

Changing the format of page numbers

To set the page number to display in Roman numerals, you need to specify the format of numbers in the page style. In the Styles and Formatting dialog (press F11 if not already displayed), select the Page Styles icon and right-click on the highlighted entry for the current style; select Modify…, which brings up the Page Style dialog.

On the Page tab of the Page Style dialog, in the Layout settings section, select i, ii, iii, … from the Format drop-down list.

Layout settings section of Page Style dialog

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This book is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, version 3.0.

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42 comments on “Numbering pages
  1. Jonathan says:

    Thanks for your helpful web site.

    I have run up against a very strange problem with page numbering and was wondering if you have a solution. I have inserted page numbers many times and never had a problem before, but while setting up a new template the page numbers are counting by odd numbers. My document has 3 pages and the number field is calling them page 1, page 3 and page 5. Do you have any idea how to correct this?

    When I first inserted the number field, I think it appeared fine. Then, I removed the header from the first page (the title page) and that seems to be when the trouble started.

    I have removed the header/page number field and reinserted them but that doesn’t change it.
    I tried this tutorial to restart the page numbers but they continue to count by odd numbers from the new page 1.

    I could send the file to you if you’re interested.

    (I’m using Open Office 3.2)

  2. Jean says:

    The most likely cause is that the page style is set to “right only” which forces an odd-numbered page. Change it to “right and left” or “mirrored” and see if that solves the problem.

    EDIT: I heard back later that my suggestion solved the problem.

  3. Isabela says:


    I have been looking everywhere for a simple explanation on how to number the pages but nothing seems to help me. I’ve done everything mentioned in the instructions for all the sites and I don’t know what’s wrong. I choose the Page Number and even Page Count options several times on my header to number them but only the grey background shows up, no number within it like all the pictures and examples say. I have no idea what to do. I may sound technologically retarded right now but I just really want some help. I’m sorry if I sound a bit frustrated, no ill feelings towards anyone. It’s just it’s 3am where I am and nothing seems to be going too well for me this week. If anyone could help me and explain to me how to number a couple of simple pages that’d be great. Also- using OpenOffice. not sure which version, but I downloaded it pretty recent.

  4. Jean says:

    Somewhere in the options is a checkbox for turning on and off the display of field contents. (Page number is a field.) Tools > Options. Probably this got unchecked at some point.

    I don’t have OOo handy, but I think in Options it’s in > View however it could be one of the other pages of Options. I’ll come back and edit this answer when I next get access to a copy of the program (next week sometime).

  5. mark says:


    Is there a way to format page numbers in LO based on sections? For example, in the intro section, have roman letters (i, ii, iii, etc) and in the body section have the numbering restart at 1 and have the formatting as numbers (1, 2, 3)? I know how to format the page numbers to the style I want how to restart a page number, but can’t seem to find a way to do it independently for different sections in a single document.


  6. mark says:

    Ah. Just figured it out, of course. Need to open the style navigator (F11). Create a new page style and there define what you want. To insert the newly defined section, go to insert manual break. Select page break and the new style just defined under style, change the page number, hit ok. Now the previous section page numbers can be formatted independently.

  7. Lisa says:

    I’m having the same problem with trying to format the front matter as i, ii, etc and the body 1,2,3. I have inserted the break, front matter is default page style and body is converted12 style. The body starts numbering again at 1, but I can only get both to be roman or both to be arabic, not the front matter in roman and the body in arabic. This is my first time ever using open office, but I had to switch to it today because Word was putting footnotes on the wrong pages. I’m very happy that the footnote problem is fixed, but I just can’t figure out what I’m doing wrong with the page numbers. Thanks!

  8. Jean says:

    Lisa, if you’re following the instructions and it’s not working, I don’t know what else to suggest. Check again on the Page tab of the Page Style dialog for each page style, that the format is set to what you want in the Layout settings section, in the Format drop-down list. Be sure to click OK to save any changes.

  9. Kate says:

    I’m having the strangest problem while trying to insert page numbers on a libre office document. i go to insert – field – page numbers but where the page numbers should come up in the top of each page it just says ‘Page numbers’ instead! please help!

  10. Gil says:

    @Kate … in OpenOffice Writer, View > Field Names (Ctrl F9) toggles between the names (e.g. “Page numbers”) and their values.

  11. Marka says:

    maybe you know how to restart PageCount after manual break with page change?
    It should look like this:

    1/3 ; 2/3 ; 3/3 —= manual break with “Change page number” =— 1/4 ; 2/4 ; 3/4 ; 4/4 and so on…

  12. Lester Spanner says:

    I’m fighting with this header / numbering business too – been working at this for an hour and cut and pasted my document into gedit 3 times to get rid of formatting junk and then put it into a new “odt” document and start over.

    I appreciate all the complicated “breaks” and “formatting” magic for special arrangements, but what I need to know is, where are the “show header on first page” and “odd / even pages” checkboxes?? I know it has to be there – this has been standard for almost 20 years in word-processing programs.

  13. Jean says:

    To have headers on some pages but not on others, you need to define different page styles and specify in each style whether you want the header there or not. On the header page of the Page Style dialog, you can choose whether or not to have “same content left/right”.

  14. Jean says:

    I don’t know how to restart PageCount after manual break with page change. I don’t think it’s intended to be used that way. But there might be a trick or workaround that I’m not aware of.

  15. Jane says:

    I’m unable to number a document starting on the second page. What I’m after is a cover sheet with no number, and then to start at one in the header on the second page. Can anyone help me?

    Yes, I worked through the directions at the top of the page–3 times. What I got was the shifting of a large amount of text down the page. ????

  16. Jean says:

    Right-click anywhere in the paragraph (which is probably a heading) at the top of the second page. Choose Paragraph from the pop-up (context) menu. On the Text Flow tab, in the Breaks section, choose Insert, choose With Page Style, select the page style, then set Page number to 1. Then the page number field in the header will start at 1.

  17. Jane says:

    Thank you, Jean, that was amazingly quick. Unfortunately, it didn’t work. The cover sheet is numbered 1 and so is the first page of text. How do I get my name and the page number OFF (in other words, no header) the cover sheet, and then start the second sheet, which is the first page of the actual document, with a header?

  18. Jane says:

    I have no idea what I’m doing wrong. I’ve followed the directions at and at

    I simply cannot get a document with no header or number on the cover sheet and then start numbering at 1 on the second sheet.

  19. Jean says:

    Use a different page style for the title page and set the header and footer both OFF. Then the page number won’t show on the title page. My instructions then work to start the numbering at 1 on the second page.

  20. Jean says:

    Did you do BOTH steps? You must use a different page style for the title page and set the header and footer both OFF. Then the page number won’t show on the title page. My instructions then work to start the numbering at 1 on the second page.

  21. Jane says:

    Thanks–I’ll try that after the weekend winds down. I do appreciate your willing help.

  22. Jane says:

    OK, I’m back again. This has proven impossible for me. I did this:

    1. Made my cover page.
    2. Pasted in text to the 2nd page.
    3. Tried to follow Method 1 above. Problems: On the 4th step, select “Before” or “After,” I don’t really get what that means, but in any case, if I select “After” I do not have the option of checking Page Style. So, I just selected “Before” since that was the only doable option. Then, on Page Style, I do not know what they mean, so I selected “Default.” Which number? I don’t understand if I’m choosing this for the cover page or the first page of text, which is the second page of the document, but I selected “0”. That then numbered my cover page with a 1 and sent my second page to the third page, leaving a blank but numbered second page. So then I chose “1”, which did exactly the same thing.

    1. I don’t know at what point to insert a header and page number. I’ve done it in every sequence I can think of, none of which work. If I don’t do it, I get no page numbers at all.
    2. I don’t know what “Before” and “After” means, and, in any case, can select only “Before.”
    3. I don’t know what the default, endnote, envelope, first page, or footnote styles even are so I can’t select intelligently.

    Do you have time to walk me through this from beginning to end?


  23. Jane says:

    P.S. I’m using Apache OpenOffice™ 3.4.

  24. Jane says:

    Nope, nothing works. Now I’ve wasted more time at

    And then I came back here and tried Method 2 above. I absolutely cannot get page numbers without also numbering the cover sheet.

  25. Jane says:

    Now I’m trying here, but am stumped right off the bat (after tiptoeing through a bunch of stuff about “page style,” thinking that I may have understood it, definitely not following those circuitous arrows!) with this: Make sure that end-of-paragraph marks are showing. What can that mean? I have absolutely no idea how to make end-of-paragraph marks show, and I would’t know them if I saw them.

    Surely somewhere on the web there’s a place that tells me how to use Open Office??? I am not stupid, only ignorant, and can’t find an explanation in vocabulary I know.

  26. Jean says:

    It sounds like you are not using a different page style for the title page. It will not work unless you have different page styles.

    I don’t have time to walk you through this, because I’m travelling in Europe with limited internet access. (If I were home, I could, but I won’t be home for another month.)

    Perhaps if you ask on the forum for someone to help? Or have you don’t that already, with no response. under “Formatting options” for showing paragraph marks. They look like backwards-facing capital P’s.

    Have you downloaded and read through my book (PDF), or are you only using the incomplete pages on my website for instruction? (Sorry; you may have said, but I don’t remember.)

  27. Jane says:

    I am choosing “First page” for the cover page and “Default” for the rest. This moves most of the cover page down to the second page. When I put on the header, the cover page is included.

    *Do I make a header before or after making a page style?
    *Better question, what do I do first?

    1. Have some text on first and second pages.
    2. Choose “First page” style for first page. (But then, what do I do about the way it ruins my first page?)
    3. Choose “Default” for second page.
    4. Create a header; select “Field” and “Page number.”

    That sequence does not work. I cannot understand from your directions any other sequence.

    No, I don’t even know where your book is. I don’t have time to read a whole book; I just need a sequence of doable steps. I don’t need to know the whole theory; I just have to get “1” onto the second page. This cannot be rocket science.

    Yay! I went looking again and found this, which worked: (Although I’m not sure I can do it again. :P)
    December 17, 2009 at 4:21 pm | #19 Quote
    If you want pages without a number and then numbering in the following pages, this is what you do:
    FORMAT – STYLES – FORMATTING. But it is much quicker to click the F11 key on the keyboard.
    In the window that opens choose the fourth icon along the top (Page Styles). In a blank area right-click and choose ‘new’.
    In the new window that appears click the organizer tab. Now you have to give your page style a name. Make something up that reflects it. I called my page style ‘Intro’. Type your chosen name in the first bar. In the bar beneath click the down arrow and highlight the name of your style. So ‘Intro’ and ‘Intro’. Click OK.
    Now right-click a blank area of the Styles and Formatting window and click the word ‘new’. Now you are creating a page style for the pages of your document with footers and numbers.
    Click the organizer tab and name the style. I named my style ‘Body’. As previously, type the name in the bar and use the arrow in the bar beneath and highlight the name. ‘Body’
    Now click the Footer tab, click the check box and click OK.
    Go to a page in your document that you want without a number. Click the F11 key. Find the name you’ve given the style and double-click it. The style (Intro) without a number will be applied to the entire document.
    Put the cursor at the very end of the page before the page you want a number in. INSERT – MANUAL BREAK. In Style find the name of your page style with footers and numbers in. Mine was ‘Body’.
    Tick the ‘Change Page Number’ box. Put the page number you want to start with. OK. A page break will be inserted where the cursor was and the new style applied from that page on.
    Put the cursor in the footer. INSERT – FIELDS – PAGE NUMBER.

  28. Jane says:

    Nope, I miraculously did it on a test document, but can’t replicate the magic on the paper I need to turn in.

  29. Peter says:

    Like many on here, page numbering is one of the many OpenOffice Writer features that leaves me absolutely baffled. If I insert the field it simply says “Page numbers”. If I type in Page 1, it appears on every alternate page.
    Format styles is the other one. It simply will not let me change the default fonts and then save them.

  30. Jean says:

    If you see “Page numbers”, you have accidentally got Field Names showing. Hold down the Control key and press F9 to display the page number instead. (Or choose View > Field Names from the menu bar to remove the check mark by Field Names.)

    To save the changes you make to default fonts, you need to create a template and make that template the Default template for Writer. See this page:


  31. Peter says:

    Thank you Jean. I later found out that the page numbers were actually showing in print preview, yet nothing appeared on the printed paper. I now have a problem with trying to get two pages formatted as portrait A5, to print side by side in A4 (so they will need to turned sideways onto the paper). There is a brochure mode, which I think is a printer setting rather than Writer, but I can’t find any way of doing this. I will have a look to see if there is a topic dedicated to this and post it on there if necessary.

  32. nello says:

    I am using Apache 3.4. Am trying to get page numbering to work.
    I can set it up as directed and get page number on the first page ONLY. The following pages do not po[pulate with the numbers.
    This document has a page break at every page. I suspect that is the issue, but do not now how to work around it. Can you help?

  33. Alexandre Ferreira says:

    This is very confusing…

    I’ve been trying just starting my page numbers with iii, iv, and so on… never found a way of doing it….

  34. Alexandre Ferreira says:

    Not i,ii,ii ……. I want iii, iv, v…. just that and I can not find it frustrating

  35. Jean says:

    Alexandre, using the two techniques described on this page will do what you want. Set the first page number as “3” and the format as “i,ii,iii”.

  36. Jean says:

    Nello, sorry I don’t have time to figure out which of the many possibilities is causing your problem. Check your page styles; if you have more than one page style in use, you need to set up footers on each of them and insert the page number field on each. Page breaks in themselves don’t cause a problem for page numbering.

  37. Jeremy says:

    Nobody (except Jane above last September, who received no answer) mentions the shifting of existing text when a footer or page break is inserted in OO. Perhaps this doesn’t happen with short text pages – or isn’t noticed when page text is intended to run on overpage. In my current document, precise text to page spacing is quite critical in certain sections.

    I tried inserting an experimental footer from the first (cover) page, but the bottom line of text was forced onto the following page. I overcame this by reducing the spacing between footer and text (Format>Page>Footer). But I also need different page numbering styles, and inserted a page break (to change page style), which resulted in creating a new footer, but followed by the insertion of a complete blank page.

    Why does this happen? How can it be overcome?

  38. Tuxworx says:

    Has anyone read this page and *not* realized that the page numbering function in LibreOffice and OpenOffice is a hopelessly broken mess? I have extensive experience using WordPerfect (for DOS and for Windows), AmiPro / Lotus Word Pro, and Microsoft Word, and I can’t figure out how to do half of the *simple* things that frustrated users are asking about on this page, even after reading other users’ helpful responses. The preposterous cycle of headers/footers, fields, styles, etc. is a design disaster. This is page numbering in a word processor that people are asking about, not programming.

  39. Ed says:

    My document only shows the odd numbers and I dont know why the even numbers are not showing after inserting page numbers

  40. Jean says:

    Do you mean that the even-numbered pages have a blank where the page number should be, or that all the pages have odd numbers?

  41. mspence says:

    How the hell do you remove the page number from the first page of a document?

  42. Jean says:

    Use a different page style for the first page. (In LibreOffice, there is a checkbox to say “Don’t number first page” so you don’t have to use a different style, but I don’t know whether Apache OpenOffice has that.)