Positioning Headers and Footers

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated August 9, 2019)


Besides allowing you to control what appears in a header or footer, Excel allows you to also control the distance at which they appear relative to the top or bottom of the paper on which you print your spreadsheet. To position the header or footer, follow these steps:

  1. Select Page Setup from the File menu. This displays the Page Setup dialog box.
  2. Make sure the Margins tab is selected. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Margins tab of the Page Setup dialog box.

  4. Use the Header and Footer controls to specify the distance from the edge of the paper at which the header or footer should appear.
  5. Click on OK.

Make sure that when you specify a position for the header or footer that the value is smaller than what you have set for top or bottom margins. If the Header or Footer values are larger than the margins, your header or footer could overlap with data printed on the page.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2636) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


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What is one more than 9?

2016-11-18 05:19:33

Col Delane

@ Jim
As I tried to explain in my previous post, the only alignment available is relative to the page via the three sections - there is [currently] no built-in way to do what you are seeking within each section as the functionality does not exist.

2016-11-17 08:51:04


Please publish the way to change the justification within the three header sections. I want to be able to enter text at a point other than the left margin in the left section, the center in the center section and the right margin in the right section.

2016-11-16 05:51:37

Col Delane

@ Jim
The alignment is of the header/footer sections relative to the page rather than of the contents within each header/footer sections, so without such fancy formatting things as Tab stops, lots of spaces is about all you can use :-(.

2016-11-15 09:15:26


How can I cause text in EACH OF THE 3 header sections to be left-aligned, centered or right-aligned independently? I don't necessarily want it left-aligned in the left section, centered in the middle section or right-aligned in the right section.

2016-05-09 08:02:23

Rick Powell

Thank you Col Delane.
Actually I went with a 2 line footer, putting the Tab name and Date on the topmost line and the File and Page n of n on the second line. The File name is just way too long, in my case.

I did find some other useful header/footer formatting codes here, which I pass along for those stumbling across this thread:


Thanks again to everyone. I am sure I will be visiting Allen Wyatt's site more often in the future.

2016-05-09 00:06:23

Col Delane

The best way to overcome your problem is to append the tab name to the filename within the left footer, viz;
&[Path]&[File] - &[Tab]

(Remove &[Path] if you only want filename & tab name)

I think the reason that &[Tab] followed by a Carriage Return causes the sheet name to appear 1 line above the rest of the footer info is that the footer margin determines where a last/bottom line of footer will print, so any additional lines in the footer must (by definition) push further into the print area. It's a little counter-intuitive: so if a long left footer (e.g. path-filename-tab) overlaps the centre footer (e.g. Page n of n), you need a carriage return AFTER the field codes of the chosen footer to push that footer above the other.

2016-04-20 11:01:34

Rick Powell

I am using Excel 2010.
Is there a way to control horizontal alignment of each of the 3 sections (left, center, right) when you use the Header/Footer tab of the Page Setup dialog box - after clicking the Custom Footer... button?

For instance, I want to heve the Left section contain &[File] (which is by default left-aligned), and the Right section to contain &[Page] (which is by default right-aligned), and the Center section always appears to be center-aligned. I would like to have &[Tab] in the Center section, but right-align it.

The real problem I am trying to solve is with a LONG Filename that extends very far into the Center section of the footer. The best solution I have come up with so far is to define the Center section to contain: &[Tab] followed by a Carriage Return, which causes the actual sheet name to appear 1 line above the rest of the footer info.

Many thanks for all the awesome stuff you have on your website!

2015-04-28 04:27:48



so I understand it correctly that it's impossible to have a full-page watermark on the page?

Currently, the best I can achieve is to have it span top to bottom (header and footer margins to 0), but can't get it to align to the left page border.

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