Confusing Page Numbering in Word 2010 RRS feed

  • General discussion

  • I have read quie a few posts lately on page numbering and printing custom ranges in Word 2010 lately and I believe it's worth opening a discussion on the subject. In my case, we had a number of users recently reporting problems printing a custom page range in a long Word document. I was able to find a work around and help them out but after several ocurrences I decided to look for more information.

    I ran across several posts indicating the solution was to specify sections and/or pages to print explicitly using the format p#s# for the ranges. Given the mixed way that Word currently handles identifying pages this is completely counterintuitive. The problem I see is that all our users -- and just about everyone else I've even seen -- works with Word documents in the Print Layout and in that layout there's no way to tell whether the document is composed of sections or pages. Many users simply open the default template and occasionally tweak the margins and go merrily on their way typing, inserting into, pasting into and merging their documents assuming that pages are pages. They have no clue that their documents are breaking with section breaks instead of page breaks in many cases.

    For the average user who just composes basic documents in the default print layout, there's no indication of whether the document contains sections or not. Even the Page Number section in the lower left of the window always says Page n of m. In fact, if I click on the page number to bring up the Find and Replace dialog and use Go To; when I enter the page number to juimp to, it takes me to the 25th page in sequence regardless of whether I have sections or not.

    If I can jump to the place I want to start printing by typing 25 for the Page in the Go To dialog, I should be able enter a range starting with 25 and have it print the range starting at that same page. My suggestion is to only print specific page and/or sections when the user specified the p1s1 type of entry. There's no reason not to assume that a user entering a numeric range to print, such as 25-29, doesn't want that range to print as displayed in their current layout regardless of whether there are sections, pages or both.

    At the very least, Be consistent. Adjust the location indicator on the lower left of the window so that it indicates the proper page and, when appropriate, section number so users will be aware that they are dealing with a sectioned document and will need to specify sections when printing and do the same in the Go To dialog as you would in the custom range field when Printing. If we IT Professionals and Power Users find it counterintuitive and frustrating, imagine how aggrivating it is to your average user.


    • Edited by RayBCCUL Thursday, March 8, 2012 11:02 PM
    Thursday, March 8, 2012 11:01 PM

All replies

  • Hi Ray,

    You say:
    all our users -- and just about everyone else I've even seen -- works with Word documents in the Print Layout and in that layout there's no way to tell whether the document is composed of sections or pages
    Word can be configured to display both the formatted page number and the section number on the status bar. Simply right-click on the status bar and make sure those options are checked.

    Paul Edstein
    [MS MVP - Word]

    Friday, March 9, 2012 5:49 AM
  • Thank you for the response. I have verified this and it could be helpful however, for the majority of my users who aren't even sophisticated enough to purposely create multi-section documents, this is only of minor usage. My primary concern is that there is consistency across the user interface when dealing with page and section numbering. Here's a specific example of what I mean based on real experiences of our users.

    Let's say I have a simple single page merge document -- no page headers, no page numbering -- and I'm merging with a list of 100 records. What I end up with is a 100 sections of a single page but in my copy of Word with the default settings, when I look at the Status Bar, I see page 1 of 100.

    Now let's say I'm printing this document and at page 30 there is a problem that causes the print job to cancel. Now I want to continue printing from page 31. I go to Print and enter 31-100 in the custom range. I click Print and the job appears to print, spools and dissappears. Nothing comes out of the printer and I get no indication of an error.

    I open the Go To dialog and type the number 31 with the Page selected under Go to what" and I am put to the 31st document and the status bar displays page 31 of 100.

    As an unsophisticated user, I don't think "Maybe these page numbers aren't page numbers" I think "Word is not working properly" and I contact my helpdesk.

    As an IT Professional and supporter of these users I expect to see a certain amount of consistency across the User Interface. If I can enter a number alone for the page in Go To and get to that page, I should be able to enter a number in the Print Custom Range and print that page. Alternately, if I must specify section or page in a multi-section document to print a custom range, then if I enter a page number that isn't valid in Go To, I should get some indication that I can't go to that page because it doesn't exist in the document as formatted. It is even more frustrating to all of us becuase our previous version (Word 2003) would just print the specified range when we entered the numbers. If the Go To section is smart enough to know that when I put in a page number that doesn't exist in any of my multiple sections, that I mean the page number as displayed in the user interface, I expect the Print Custom Range to be that smart as well. Since you can specify page and section explicitly as p# and s# for printing ranges from multi-section documents, it's quite reasonable to infer a numeric entry specified page number as displayed in the user interface, regardless of section and/or page numbering.

    Does this make sense to you?


    Friday, March 9, 2012 4:57 PM
  • Hi Ray,

    I understand fully. However, Word has behaved this way since the early 1990s. That people are still being bitten by it demonstrates two things:
    • it isn't intuitive
    • there's been a lack of fairly basic training in how to use Word. I suspect the document created by the same users make very little use of Styles - some probably even have carriage returns at the end of every line and a mix of spaces & tabs on every 'indented' line ...

    Paul Edstein
    [MS MVP - Word]

    Friday, March 9, 2012 9:48 PM