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Header example from a family history book

Header at the top of a family history book (by Patricia Hall Howard). | Design & Layout | Alpha Index of Full Glossary:

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Definition:

Appearing at the top or head of a page outside the page margins, the header is typically found in word processing documents such as reports as well as some books, booklets, newsletters, and magazines. Text in a header may include a page number and information related to the document such as book title or chapter, author's name, a date, or even just a decorative rule line and is repeated (usually) on every page of the document.

The header can be formatted separately from other text on the page and in desktop publishing software is typically created on one of the document's master pages. Special codes can be inserted in the header to insert the correct page number, date, and other information. Some documents have one header for even-numbered pages and a different one for odd-numbered pages. The software may allow you to suppress the header on some pages, such as title pages or the table of contents.

A page may have both headers and footers — similar to a header but appears at the bottom of the page.

Designing With Headers

  • In book design, a header may have the book title and page number on one set of pages (even or odd) and the current book chapter or section and page number on the other set of pages, as an example (usually with the page number in the outside corners or centered at the top).

  • The header of a newsletter may repeat the name of the publication and the specific issue or date on each page.

  • Perhaps a little less common than a footer, Web pages can have headers too. About.com Web Design/HTML tells us that the HTML5 header tag "typically contains the headings for a section along with introductory material or navigational aids."

  • The header or footer is usually set in a smaller font that the body text, sometimes in a different color, or separated with a graphic divider.

  • Jennifer Krynin recommends including your company name, perhaps logo, and contact info in a header or footer on every page of a design proposal or contract.

  • Headers fall outside the page margins that control your main body copy. If you know you'll be using headers, be sure to use margins that don't push the headers too far to the top of the page. You still want to have a little visual space (either actual space or a graphic divider of some sort) between the top of your text columns or headlines and your header.

  • Headers don't have to use the same left and right margins as the rest of your text but it generally looks better to have them aligned the same. Although with short centered headers (especially ones that are just a page number) the left and right margins are irrelevant.

  • When writing up a report or paper using a style guide such MLA or Turabian, be sure to follow its guidance on placement, formatting, and content of headers or footers.

Creating Headers and Footers

Word Processing Software

Desktop Publishing Software

Other Software

Also Known As: running head | running headline
Terms Related to Header

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