How to Make a Running Head in MS Word

By Lynne Pettus

Use the header and footer tools in Word 2013 to add a running header as defined by the American Psychological Association. An APA-styled running header displays at the top of every page of your paper and includes the paper’s title in all caps and a right-aligned page number. The first page differs slightly in that the header title is prefaced by “Running Head:”. Before you add the header, compose at least a couple pages of your paper so that you can customize the first page’s header. If you do not need to adhere to APA style and want to just add a header, the steps are the same.

Step 1

Click the “INSERT” tab, then click “Header” in the Header & Footer section.

Step 2

Click inside the textbox area for the “Blank” header which opens the header portion of your document displaying the placeholder text “Type here.” For non-APA headers, you may choose any header style.

Step 3

Enter “Running Head: ” followed by your title in all caps, replacing the placeholder text “Type here.” By default, the header is flush-left, which complies with APA style. Retain the default “Header From Top” setting of one-half inch. Make sure the “Different First Page” check box is selected. This option enables you to set a different header for your first page than for all subsequent pages.

Step 4

Add a tab in preparation for adding a page number. Ensure that your cursor is placed just after your header text on the same line, then select “Insert Alignment Tab” in the Position group of the DESIGN tab's HEADER & FOOTER TOOLS to launch the Alignment Tab dialogue box. Select “Right,” and then click “OK.” The cursor moves to the right margin.

Step 5

Click “Quick Parts” on the INSERT tab, then click “Field...”

Step 6

Scroll down in the "Field names:" list, click “Page,” and then “OK.” Depending on your settings, Word may notify you that the use of this field is not compatible with earlier versions of Word. If so, click “OK” to continue.

Step 7

Exit the header by double clicking anywhere else in the document. The header becomes grayed out, and the body of the document becomes editable again.

Step 8

Add a header for subsequent pages by scrolling down to the header section of the next page and double clicking in the top margin to activate the header editing tools. Enter the title of your paper in all caps, without the initial “Running Head: ” entry. Add a right-side page number as in the first-page header. All subsequent pages will automatically have this header.

Tips & Warnings

  • An APA-style running head should display in each page’s header, with the title no more than 50 characters. The page margins should be one inch; it is within this one inch that your header displays. Additionally, APA dictates that the page number should be right-aligned.
  • If you are just adding a regular header and do not need to comply with APA guidelines, omit the “Running head” entry on the first page, and uncheck the box “Different First Page” unless you have other reasons to require an individualized first page header.
  • When adding a page number, be sure to add it by choosing “Quick Parts” and then “Field...” as discussed here. If you use the Page Number gallery instead, the page number replaces your existing header.
  • You can quickly edit the header by double clicking in the header area, which activates the header. To return to the main text, just double click anywhere below the dotted blue header marker.