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How to Add Page Numbers?

Every once in a while, a question comes in from a new user that brings you back to how it was when you were first learning a page layout program. Here’s one from Sean that came in today:

I have been learning InDesign and have started to move along, but have gotten to a point to where I have searched the web and the book trying to figure this out, but have yet to find any solution.

It seems basic to me, but I can’t figure out how it’s done. I just want to add numbers to all of the pages in the document that I have created. The document has a total of 165 pages and I would like to have all of the pages numbered except for the first one. I have tried going to the Layout->numbering & section option link and have tried all of the different options that are there, but have yet to finish with any numbers on the pages. I just want them all numbered with the page number on the bottom centered.

Is there any way that you can help me with this?

No problem, Sean!

Go to your document’s master pages, and on each page (if it’s a facing pages master), add a small text frame where you want the page number to appear.

Still on the master page, click with the Type tool inside of each text frame, and go to Type > Insert Special Character > Auto Page Number (in CS3, it’s called “Current Page Number”). You’ll see the single-letter prefix of your master page appear in the text frame while you’re on the master pages, which is correct.

Now go to the first page of your document and you should see it say “1”. and page two will show “2” etc. in that text frame.

To remove the page number from the first page, use the Selection tool to Command-Shift-click on the text frame (to override the master page item, otherwise it’s locked to you) and delete the frame.

Look in the help file for “master page” and “page number” for more info, or watch David’s InDesign CS3 Essential Training on for more info.

Anne-Marie Concepcion

Anne-Marie Concepcion

Anne-Marie “Her Geekness” Concepción is the co-founder (with David Blatner) and CEO of Creative Publishing Network, which produces InDesignSecrets, InDesign Magazine, and other resources for creative professionals. Through her cross-media design studio, Seneca Design & Training, Anne-Marie develops ebooks and trains and consults with companies who want to master the tools and workflows of digital publishing. She has authored over 20 courses on on these topics and others. Keep up with Anne-Marie by subscribing to her ezine, HerGeekness Gazette, and contact her by email at or on Twitter @amarie
Anne-Marie Concepcion

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132 Comments on “How to Add Page Numbers?

  1. Paul: The new numbering starts at the page that is selected in the Pages panel (which might be another one than the one on your screen).
    Simply first click on the page you want to start new numbering on (in your case, the 3rd in the panel), then go to the Pages panel menu and set the starting page number.

    Traditionally, you shouldn’t have two pages ‘1’, so ID will give you a stern Are-You-Sure warning. So (also traditionally) you ought to change the numbering for the cover pages to ‘a’, ‘b’ for the first two pages and ‘c’, ‘d’ for the last two pages.

  2. Pingback: InDesignSecrets » Blog Archive » Use Numbered Lists Instead of Auto Page Numbering

  3. I tried this and it worked except the proceeding page numbers didn’t change to reflect the deleted ones. Therefore, the page that I want to be #1 is now #4…is there any way to get it to automatically number after this? I’ve heard of the ability to make a new section…I’m not exactly sure how to make that work (I’ve failed when I’ve tried because it inserts an extra page and screws everything up) or if that’s what I need to do here.


  4. I’m sure it’s quite simple, but I have a problem with the page numbering (indesign cs4) (using mac) that’s driving me crazy:
    The problem is that the number ‘1.’ appears before each page number on each side: 1. 1, 1. 2, 1. 3 and so forth. – How to get rid of the ‘1.’??

  5. Maia: Check the very first New Section settings using Numbering & Section Options in the Pages panel — if you haven’t defined any sections of your own, there’s always one at the first page of your document.
    Perhaps you have enabled “Include Prefix when numbering pages”.

    Another possibility is that you accidentally enabled Paragraph Numbering on your page numbers …

  6. Thanks a lot Jongware, for the fast reply. I haven’t enabled “include prefix” and I haven’t enabled ‘paragraf numbering’. The ‘define sections’ is empty… but how do I ‘define sections’ – which values do I use to ‘define sections’ if I only want to see the pagenumber and no ‘1.’ in front of every pagenumber??

  7. @Maia: I don’t mean to ask the obvious, but… did you check your master page? Perhaps there is actually a “1.” typed in the text frame, before the automatic number.
    The second, less obvious, thing would be: Perhaps the paragraph has automatic numbering turned on (like a list)? It may be in the paragraph style definition and not obvious on the page?

  8. I am trying to make layout for newspaper with 33 pages.Is it possible to put auto page numbering on to the spread so that be ready for printing? That means that on my first spread (both side printed) should be page 1 on right side, page 33 on the left side. And second spread (the other side) should be page 2 left and page 32 on the right side.

  9. @Tiho: What you want is called imposition. In general, it’s best to lay your document out as it reads (1 to 32) and then use file > print booklet, or export as PDF and then use an acrobat plug-in to impose the document to make it the way you want.

  10. I tried to check an answer to this point but could not find a thread.

    How to number, consecutively, in an even page? And the odd page must remains without numbering?

    In this case the numbering will show a double of real pages…

    Thank you

  11. I could use the paragraph/numbering/list and make copy-paste in every even page but the method is just a little primitive.

  12. Camilo: it is, but InDesign simply cannot do this with regular page numbers.

    One harkens back to the wonderful days of WordPerfect 6.0 — it introduced User Defined Variables! Increment and Decrement at will! Totally customizable page numbering, numbered lists, part and chapter numbers, headings, notes, references … the world was my spineless sea-dwelling calcified bivalve.

  13. Is there a way to do auto page numbering in this example 001/500.

    The way i’ve done it once you get to 10 it goes 0010/500 when it needs to be 010/500

    Any ideas?

  14. I’m creating a diary and wondered if there is a way to auto number the dates using a special character, so for instance at the top of the page…
    Monday 1st January 2011
    Is it possible to get the “1st” auto numbered within the same text box by replacing the 1 with #
    So the next page will have 2 and so on!

    (I’m using indesign cs3)

    I know you can have a separate text box but that kind of plays with the alignment of things, thought there might be a faster way if possible!

  15. Thanks endlessly for this site and thorough explanation. I was going crazy over a basic oversight and had been reading all the tips I came across, it was not until I read your explanation that my mind lit up. Thank you again!

  16. Hi, I hope someone might help me. I need to number three coupons on the same page starting with different numbers and make automatic numbering througout 167 pages. Is this possible?

  17. Hi: Using Trial Indesign CS5. Read tutorials on basic Section/Page numbering.

    No matter what I do, Section/Page numbers don’t show when Book/Document viewed with Adobe Digital Editions. Any thoughts?

    Thank you kindly in advance.

  18. David, thank you kindly for the reply.

    Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is included as a Sample in the DE ebook Library. Page numbers are displayed–perhaps just embedded text.

    Also, why would Indesign CS5 provide for page numbering (Insert Special Character>Marker>Current Page Number etc)?

  19. @tpias: If I’m not mistaken, the epub reader (digital editions, or iBook, or stanza, etc.) can insert its own page numbers in. But think about it: If the person using the reader software makes the text bigger or smaller, then all the text would reflow and all the page numbers would be wrong! So it is not for InDesign to put page numbers in.

    Of course, it has an automatic page number feature for people who are using InDesign for print or PDF or SWF.

  20. Yes David, your comment makes sense w/r to page nums. Same should be true then for Links, yet Alice’s Adventures… has active links in DE. Mine just render as text. Perhaps it is not an eBook but rather a PDF.

    My goal is to publish iBook/eBook for iPad and Kindle etc.
    Thought I could use IDesign to publish and DE to test appearance–perhaps I’m on wrong track.

  21. I don’t know if this helps anyone else or not, but I work for a printing company and we number stuff all the time. What I did is set up a spreadsheet where I type in the starting number, how many numbers per page, and the ending number, and it automatically generates the list of numbers I want. Then I use the merge feature of InDesign to merge that text into the desired numbering fields, and then can easily create a multi-page, numbered document.

  22. I’m with Sean – I just need to number the pages in my 92 page document.

    OK – you lost me right off with my “documents master pages”! What’s that? Where do I find it?


  23. @jude: Master pages are like “templates” for pages. Anything you put on a master page will show up on a document page based on that master. Look in the Pages panel.

    I’d strongly suggest getting some basic training, such as a copy of the book Real World InDesign, or training at

  24. Here’s an interesting problem I have —

    I am using a master page for layout of background graphics for a set of 5 white-papers.

    Then, I am using separate layers for each different white-paper, so I can turn the individual layers on and off for each paper.

    That works fine — but here’s the problem. The number of pages for the first white-paper is 5; the number for the second is 4; the number for the third is 7, etc.

    If I set up a text box on the master page to handle the typical ” of ” format, I can’t figure out a way to easily change it so that the “total page” variable reflects the actual number of pages used in that white-paper. Instead I get things like “Page 2 of 7” when there are only 5 pages in that particular document.

    Short of having to create separate documents for each white-paper (something I wanted to avoid) is there any way to calculate the total number of pages on the fly..?

  25. @TimK: No, I don’t think so. You could perhaps use Conditional Text and Smart Text Reflow to “turn on and off” each white paper, so that the length of the document would change on the fly, based on which condition was visible.

  26. Hi, I was wondering if you can help me. I’m trying to put both page numbers on the left hand page of a DS so it reads ‘1/2’ in the bottom left corner (asymetriclly). But stumped as to how to get it work in Master Pages. Is there a way to create this?