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Aligning the Running Head and Page Numbers

The information below is relevant for students who are using the APA Style (6th ed.) rules.

Please note that if you're a student who is using the APA (7th ed.) style rules, running heads are no longer necessary in essays unless the instructor requires them. See Running Head or No Running Head? For Student Papers, APA Style Says Bye, Bye, Bye for more information.

Students often ask how to set up a running head and page numbers in Microsoft Word so that they appear on the same line in the header (and the first page is different) -- please see below for a step-by-step approach. My area of expertise isn't technical support, so if the instructions don't work for you, please consult your favourite MS Word expert or contact Microsoft; however, I tested them, and they worked! Please make sure you complete each step in order before moving to the next one or the formatting won't work.

1. Go to your title page.

2. Choose the Insert menu in Word:

3. In the Insert menu, select Page Number, then Top of Page:

4. Choose Plain Number 3 from the list of options:

The page number should now appear in the right corner of the header.

5. Place the cursor right in front of the page number in your header and type the ALL CAPS text of your running head:

6. Press the Tab key twice to move the text to the left. The page number should remain at the right.

7. While keeping your cursor in the header, click the Design menu tab (this tab may already be selected), and check the box for Different First Page:

You should now see a blank header on your title page. Type your running head with the identifier (e.g., "Running head: ALL CAPS") in the header of the title page. That text should only appear on your title page, and all other pages in the text should show only the ALL CAPS text.

Voilà! The running head and page numbers should now appear on the same line in the header of your document.

Theresa Bell
Manager, Blended Learning Success

(Originally published in Crossroads July 15, 2015; updated March 3, 2021)