Word X: Can’t view main header or footer if document has only one page

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
January 5th, 2003 • 6:28 pm

One constant source of annoyance with Word is what happens if you use the “Different First Page” option in a document in order to have a different header and footer for the first page of the document.

If, like a well-organized person, you want to define your various headers and footers first and then start typing the text of the document per se, that means that, when you tell Word that you want your document to have a different first page, your document only has one page, because you’ve typed any text yet.

The problem is that situation is that there is absolutely no way to access/edit the main header and footer for your document. The only header and footer that are accessible are the ones for the first page of the document, because your document only has one page. In order to actually view and edit the main header and footer (for all pages after page 1), you have to artificially add a second page to your document first, by inserting a manual page break. Then the document will have two pages, and Word will let you go from the First Page Header (or Footer) to the main Page Header (or Footer).

This is particularly problematic when you are editing template files. By definition, template files are empty “shells” that contain predefined formatting options, including, in some cases, a different first page header and footer. If you want to make changes to the main header or footer in your template file, you have no choice but to resort to the trick of temporarily inserting a manual page break in order to make the template document have two pages.

I suppose it is a minor annoyance, but it’s a typical part of the whole experience of using Word X. A similar annoyance is the fact that Word’s Preferences dialog box is inaccessible if no document is open, even though it contains many application-wide settings that have nothing to do with a specific document and that the user should be able to modify even with no document window open.

The reason it is inaccessible when no document is open is that Word’s Preferences dialog also contains certain document-specific settings — which doesn’t make any sense at all. Document-specific settings should never be included in an application-wide Preferences dialog.

Basically, the whole Word architecture is flawed.

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