“Page X of Y” Problems

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“Page X of Y” gives wrong numbers

When you use the “Page X of Y” AutoText (or building block in Word 2007) in your header or footer, and it seems to work okay, but when you reopen or print the document, you see “Page 1 of 1,” “Page 2 of 2,” and so on (or, worse still, “Page 1 of 1,” “Page 2 of 1,” etc.), you have the “Page X of Y” bug.

This problem is a “golden oldie” seen mostly in ancient versions of Word; as noted below, it was “fixed” by Word 2000 SR-1 (see the links at the bottom of the page for more information), then reinstated by an Office XP service pack. A decade later, it still tends to surface in various forms, hence the need for workarounds.

Workarounds when you still experience the problem

If you have applied the latest service release for your version of Word, and you still have the Page X of Y problem, one of the solutions mentioned below may work for you:

  1. Reverse the print order. This forces Word to paginate the entire document before printing the first page. Find this setting at:
    Word 2003 or earlier: Tools | Options | Print
    Word 2007:
    Office Button | Word Options | Advanced: Print
    Word 2010 and above: File | Options | Advanced: Print
    This works for almost everyone but is a major pain. If your printer has its own “reverse print order” hardware setting, you can, in effect, reverse twice, thus saving yourself the trouble of re-collating; but this is hardly practical if it’s a network printer. Some printers (those that output face up) reverse the print order by default, and the Page X of Y problem is rare with such printers.

  2. Switch into Print Preview and back, twice if necessary. Make sure you have the “Update fields” option checked at:
    Word 2003 and earlier: Tools | Options | Print
    Word 2007: Office Button | Word Options | Display

    Word 2010 and above: File | Options | Display
    This works for some but is not practical in a corporate environment – it’s too easy to forget to do it. In any case, it is probably a red herring since Word updates all fields in headers and footers before printing even with this option disabled.

  3. In addition to (2)., try clearing the check box for background printing:
    Word 2003 and earlier: Tools | Options | Print: Background printing
    Word 2007: Office Button | Word Options | Advanced: Print: Print in background
    Word 2010 and above: File | Options | Advanced: Print: Print in background

    This works for more people than (2) on its own.

  4. Some users report that hiding nonprinting characters (toggle the Show/Hide ¶ button to Hide) helps. Same comment as (2).

  5. Instead of using a NUMPAGES field, use a PAGEREF field that references a bookmark at the very end of the document.

  6. Or, if you’re using the SECTIONPAGES field, replace each with a PAGEREF field that references a bookmark at the very end of that section.

The problem with both (5) and (6) is that you need an amazing level of self-discipline to remember to redefine the bookmark’s position whenever you add any text at the end of the document or section.

  1. Write an Add-in that intercepts the FilePrint and FilePrintDefault commands and implements (5). automatically. For a corporate environment, this was really the only practical solution before the release of Service Release 1 for Word 2000.

Important Note: If you are restarting numbering at 1 in each section and beginning each section on an odd page (using an Odd Page section break), if the previous section ends on an odd page, causing Word to generate a blank even page between the sections, that page will (most illogically) be counted as the first page of the following section. The upshot of this is that, if you have, say, five pages in the section and are using “Page { PAGE } of { SECTIONPAGES }” for your page number, you will get Page 1 of 6, Page 2 of 6, etc., with the last page as Page 5 of 6. In such cases, you can use method (6) above, or you can use { = { SECTIONPAGES } – 1}. And of course if you want the blank page counted in the previous section, you’ll need to use a calculated SECTIONPAGES field there, too. This is a situation where you may want to rethink the necessity of either Page X of Y numbering or restarting numbering in each section, or both.

Related articles

The Total Number of Pages field (NUMPAGES) does not print correctly in Word 2000

FIX: The result of the SectionPages field or NumPages field does not print correctly in Word 2000

The NUMPAGES field may not print as expected after you install Word 2000 Service Pack 3

WD97: Incorrect SectionPages or NumPages Field When Printed


This article copyright © 2000, 2017 by Suzanne S. Barnhill. This article, which originally appeared at the Word MVPs’ site, contains (or at one time contained) contributions from a number of former Word MVPs, the identities of most of whom are lost to history, but it appears that Dave Rado, Jonathan West, and “Ibby” Ibbotson were among them.