Excel Basics:
Setup Header/Footer

Title: Jan's Illustrated Computer Literacy 101
Did you want Working with Numbers: 2007,2010,2013,2016  or españolIcon: Change web

You often need to include some information about your document at the top (the header) or the bottom (the footer) of each printed sheet. Spreadsheets often need several paper pages to print. It is important to put the right information in the header or footer so you can tell which pages go together.

Header diagram
Header and footer text lives
 inside the top and bottom margins.

Where you are:
JegsWorks > Lessons > Numbers

Before you start...

Project 1: Excel IntroTo subtopics

Project 2: Excel Basics  
Getting Started Arrow to subtopics
      Icon - FootprintRegional Settings
      Icon - FootprintAppearance
      Icon - FootprintPage
      Icon - FootprintMargins
      Icon - FootprintHeader/Footer
      Icon - FootprintSheet
      Icon - FootprintOptions
      Icon - FootprintEnter/Edit/Clear Popup Table
    ArrangeTo subtopics
    AutoFillTo subtopics
    FinishTo subtopics
    ExercisesTo subtopics

Project 3: Format & ArrangeTo subtopics

Project 4: Groups & FormulasTo subtopics

Project 5: DesignTo subtopics


There is a handy dialog to make this process as easy as possible. But, the process is somewhat different than you may be used to in other programs.

Using one of the standard header/footer layouts

In Excel the header and footer are divided into 3 sections: Left, Center, Right. You must format these three sections separately.

Warning No wrap error: The sections of the header do not wrap, so if what you type is too long, it will print on top of the next header section's text. In the illustration below the Left section is using the font Arial Black while the Center and Right sections use Arial. The text runs right over the Center section. No wrapping occurs. Tip:  The preview in the Header dialog that shows your custom text on a page is smaller than the normal paper page. So if everything fits in the preview, you should be clear of overlaps on the real page, too.

Header overlaps cells

Warning Separate Header/footer for each Sheet: You must actively set the header and footer for each sheet. Excel will use the header and footer on each piece of paper that it takes to print that sheet. If you wish to use the same header/footer for several sheets, you can select all the sheets first and then create the header/footer. Just don't forget to unselect the sheets when you are done or all your keystrokes will apply to every selected sheet. You can overwrite a lot of data this way!!!

Icon Step-by-Step 

Step-by-Step: Setup Header & Footer

 Icon Step-by-Step

What you will learn:

to create a header or footer for printing
to create a custom header 
to print from toolbar

Start with: Icon - Excel with blank document (a blank workbook)

Setup Header

  1. Dialog: Page SetupIf necessary, open the page Setup dialog . [File | Page Setup...]
  2. Click on the Header/Footer tab.

    The dialog shows separate text boxes for header and footer. Each one has a drop list of suggestions.

  3. Standard list of choices for headerOpen the drop list on the Header text box and scroll it to see the pre-defined headers. Your list will look somewhat different from the illustration.

    The choices include things like page and sheet numbers, file name, and date. Other suggestions include the name of the person and company or school to which the software is licensed. Those are set when the software is installed. The person's name for this document can be changed in File | Properties | Summary | Author.

  4. Page Setup - Custom headerSelect several of the choices in the drop list to see how they will display. Include one that has three parts, divided by commas. The Header box shows how your choice will print on the page - left, center, right.

  5. Click the Custom Header… button. A dialog box opens with 3 sections. This is more awkward than the way Word handles headers. Here you must enter and format each section separately. The Left section is Aligned Left. The Center section is Centered. The Right section is Aligned Right. You cannot change these alignments.

    Dialog: Header

    When none of the pre-defined headers suit you, you can type in any text you want in any section. The buttons help with the information people often want to include.

    Same as in Word: New to Excel
       Button: Page Number Page number
       Button: Total number of pages Total number of pages 
       Button: Date Date 
       Button: Time Time
    Button: Font Font
    Button: File name File name
    Button: Sheetname Sheet name

    Icon: Excel 2003 Excel 2002/2003 adds:
    Button: Path and Filename Path and Filename
    Button: Insert Picture Insert picture
    Button: Format picture Format picture

    Dialog: FontFont button The Font button opens the Font dialog. You must format each section separately. You can format just part of a section's text, if you wish.

    You do not have quite all of the choices here that the Font dialog has in Word. Some of the Effects are missing and you cannot use a Font Color in your header or footer. Disappointing!

    Tip The check box Normal font will return the header to the default workbook font, usually Arial 10 pts. You can set this Normal font in Tools | Options | General | Standard font.

    Tip Icon: Excel 97 Icon: Excel 2000You can't insert a graphic in an Excel97/2000 header or footer. Sad Smiley face
           Icon: Excel 2002Icon: Excel 2003 You CAN insert a (small) graphic in the header or footer in Excel 2002/2003. Happy smiley face
                    Use Button: Insert Picture the Insert picture button.
                    Use Button: Format picture the Format picture button to get a dialog to change the size etc. of the picture.

  6. Use the buttons to create your own Custom Header with the following sections:

    Left = Your name, two spaces, the date

    Center = File name, space, hyphen, space, Sheet name

    Right =  Excel Project 2 

    Dialog - custom Header

    Header in 3 sections

    Use this style of header on each sheet for your projects and exercises. Change the right section as is appropriate for later projects and for exercises.

  7. Click on OK to close the Header dialog.


  1. Error message; Microsoft Excel did not find anything to print.Click on Button: Print Preview the Print Preview button. Since you have not entered anything in the worksheet yet, an error message appears.
  2. Click on OK to close the error message.
  3. Select cell A1 and press the spacebar once and then press ENTER. This will put a blank space into the cell. Excel considers this as "something to print."
  4. Click on Button: Save the Save button on the Standard toolbar. Since this is a new file, the Save As dialog appears.
  5. Class disk Save your file to your Class disk in the excel project2 folder you created earlier, with the name myheader.xls.
    How to handle a full disk


  6. Open Print Preview again. You should see a blank document with your custom header showing.
  7. Print Print by clicking Button: Print the Print button. You will learn more about controlling your printing later. The button works fine for this little job.

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Last updated: 02 May 2012