When using Adobe InDesign, page numbers provide readers a way to navigate effortlessly through a document; automated page numbers update as you rearrange, add, or remove a document’s pages. Although page numbering in InDesign can be automatically generated, the actual design and placement requires a bit of preparation and setup on the part of the designer.
While putting page numbers on each individual document page certainly works, most of the time you’ll want to put them on a master page instead. This allows for easy updating whether you want to change a number’s text styling or its position on the page.
Start by placing your page text frame in position on the master page, entering in an actual page number, then styling that number. After you’ve styled it to your liking, it’s time for the automatic part of the operation. Select the styled page number, go up to the Type menu, then navigate to Insert Special Character > Markers > Current Page Number. The number will now display the prefix of the current master page. Any document page using that master shows that particular page’s number.
If you want to include other text, you can add that before or after the automatic page number. For instance, you might want to spell out “Page 1” or use something like “p. 3” as part of the page identification. Back on the master, just enter whatever extra text you want to appear with the page number, leaving the automatic character to stand in for the page number. Whether you add extra text or not, be sure to make the text frame large enough to accommodate anything that might occupy it; you want to avoid overset text.
Though the page numbers by default are standard Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, etc.), you might want another type of number label altogether. To change the styling, head over to the Pages panel menu and choose Numbering & Section Options. In the Page Numbering section, under the Styling pull-down menu, choose from Roman, small Roman, Arabic, or even letters and numbers with leading zeros.
Also in that dialog box is the option to start your current section on a specific page or to use continuous automatic page numbering. By default, there is one section in every new document; if you choose to create additional sections, you’ll make this choice for each one. Indicate a Section Prefix to identify each section in your document. This label can show up in the Pages panel for easier navigation or in the automatic page numbering itself if you check the Include Prefix when Numbering Pages checkbox. If, for instance, you select that option and assign the label “Sec. 1:,” your page numbering will look something like “Sec. 1:1,” “Sec. 1:2,” and so on. Note that if you have “Section Numbering” turned on in your Preferences (under the General pane), you’ll see this numbering convention. Switch to “Absolute Numbering” to view pages in the panel as 1, 2, 3, and the like.
There will be times that you don’t want a page number to appear on a document page. To remove the number’s text frame, you’ll need to override the master page item first. To do that, use Shift-Command/Control and click on the page number on the document page. Now you can delete the text frame as you normally would. You may also run into the issue of a page number being covered up by document page items, such as a full-bleed image. To ensure page numbers on a master page are always visible, employ layers. Create a new layer at the top of the Layers panel and put your page-number text frames on that layer.
Finally, you can create a PDF that will “lock in” any automatic numbering in its current state upon exporting. If you are responsible for paginating the document—organizing it into printer spreads—you’ll need to use the Print Booklet feature from the File menu or employ a third-party pagination tool to ensure the numbering you’ve set up stays put during pagination.
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