Common problem: Word Header / Footer missing: Edit Margins


This is a troubleshooting article on Edit Margins. Common problem and quick solution. If the top and bottom margin is missing in the page layout view in Word, don’t get confused. Spend 2 minutes to find out the solution and the logic behind it.

Word screen showing Header / Footer


While working with Word, sometimes the header and footer disappears. When you scroll down, each page is starting immediately after the previous page. No top bottom margins are seen…

The first page starts just be low the ruler… like this…

Word screen for editing margins

You want it to look like this…

Word screen for editing margins

When you scroll down, it looks like this …

Word screen for editing margins

Solution: Edit Margins

This is not a problem nor a bug. This is a feature!

The logic behind this feature is simple. It is actually useful for you.

Most of us work in the Page Layout view. (Which is wrong. But we still do. I will cover this some other time). In this view, the page is shown exactly as it is going to be printed.

However, printing happens rarely nowadays. And while creating the document, you read it on screen. Now, the space available on the screen is limited. And usually the header and footer is ONE INCH each. So while you scroll, two inches of precious screen space is wasted in showing blank top / bottom margins. Even if you have headers and footers, you don’t want to read them repeatedly while working on the document.

Word screen showing margins

If you could save that wasted space, you could read a few paragraphs more on the same screen. That is why Microsoft created a nice feature.

When you move your cursor just above the topmost margin of the first page or between the gap between any two pages, the cursor shape changes and it shows

Word screen showing margins

Word screen showing margins

Do that. Now it stops showing the top and bottom margin so that you can read more text with the same screen size.

Now you know why it works the way it does. Unfortunately, most often this happens by mistake and you don’t realize it. When you open the document next time or send it to someone else, everyone gets confused.

To get the margins back, just to to the same area and double click again.

Word screen showing margins

Remember our rule:
Whatever is irritating is usually very useful!


3 Responses

  1. Our header and footers have completely disappeared in Word 2010? Can you help? I work in a small office. Two different admin staff have noticed the same issue on separate computers – so I can only imagine it’s a MS software update/bug? Our letterhead (a document that contains solely a header and footer) shows as a completely blank document in Print Layout view, though in Print Preview (and when printed) the header and footer graphics appear. Unfortunately – we can no longer edit the content in our header and footer. Can you shed any light on this ‘useful’ feature?

  2. Thanks. I must have accidentally hidden my headers. You’re article was very helpful and solved my problem.

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