Adding Custom Page Numbering to a PDF

This Tech Tip was submitted by Laura Mills, Research Analyst, Armstrong Atlantic State University.

In my office, we distribute finished reports in PDF format. For larger documents, we include a cover page and table of contents. Unless I have the cover page marked as page 1, the numbering for my document is off. If my readers type in the page number from the table of contents at the top of the PDF, it will take them to the wrong page. In order to exclude the cover page and table of contents and still be able to type in the page number, I use custom page numbering in Adobe Acrobat Pro. This is also useful in turning several pages of Excel into one document without having to manually enter the page numbers.

Step 1 - In Adobe Acrobat Pro, go to Advanced > Document Processing > Number Pages.  

 The Page Numbering dialogue box opens, as shown above.  

Step 2 - Select the page range for the title page and table of contents. Then under style, select the numbering you would like to use. I use small Roman Numerals (i, ii, iii…).

Step 3 - Once you click OK, the page range you have selected (i, ii, iii…) will display at the top of the screen, and the first page of the actual document will reflect the number 1 at the top of the PDF.  

Step 4 - The final step is to add page numbers to each page. Select Document > Header & Footer > Add. The Header and Footer dialogue box will open. 

  • Select where you would like the page numbers to appear on the document. In this example, I placed the page number in the Right Header by placing my cursor in the box as shown below, and then selecting the Insert Page Number button. The number will appear as shown in the Right Header text box.
  • The page number and date can be customized using Page Number and Date Format (blue link to the right of the buttons, shown below).
  • Using the Page Range Options link, shown above, you can select on which page you would like your numbering to begin. I often set numbering to start after the title page and table of contents, so I set the “Pages from” to 3 to 112 as show below.  

Now readers have an easy way to navigate the document. They can access the table of contents and easily type in the desired page number in the Find field. This is a quick and easy tip that creates a professional, user-friendly document.



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Total Comments: 13
John posted on 6/12/2013 12:23 PM
Good tip! I've used Acrobat Pro to combine multiple PDF documents into a single document for publishing on the web. Your custom page numbering trick will work with this nicely.
Anwarul posted on 6/12/2013 12:31 PM
Thank you so much for the Tech Tips!
Erin posted on 6/12/2013 12:34 PM
What a great tip! I've experienced similar issues with Table of Contents page numbering. Can't wait to give it a try!
Gary posted on 6/12/2013 12:37 PM
That's a useful feature - misnumbered pages are so frustrating as a reader. I'm curious to see whether page numbers added in Adobe will have a consistent look with the rest of the document.
Angela posted on 6/12/2013 12:42 PM
This is a great tip! I can't wait to use it on some upcoming reports!
Bruce posted on 6/12/2013 12:46 PM
How many times have I wandered around and missed this tip! Thanks so much...
Nina posted on 6/12/2013 12:59 PM
What a neat tip!! will definitely be giving this a try!!!
Jim posted on 6/13/2013 7:24 AM
This is a great tip about a little-known feature. I use this to correctly number the contents and pages in my dashboard indicators document. I highlight all of the tabs to be printed from Excel to .pdf,but then I use Acrobat to do the page numbers.
Terry posted on 6/13/2013 2:07 PM
People do not realize what all can be accomplished with Acrobat. This is a great tip.
Nicole posted on 6/18/2013 8:46 AM
Great tip! I didn't realize this was an option.
Maren posted on 6/18/2013 8:54 AM
This is going to be great, especially for combining multiple files into one PDF. Thanks!
JR posted on 2/12/2014 8:08 PM
this is so helpful, the page numbering features in adobe for pdf documents has not exactly been intuitive so this will help make larger documents far more professional and less confusing - thank you!
Jay posted on 4/15/2014 4:33 PM
thanks! besides adobe pro, there is a free online tool which can add page numbers to pdf files: no software needed.