How to Change the Header Margins in Microsoft Word

614004 How to Change the Header Margins in Microsoft Word

Headers and footers in Word documents allow you to add additional information such as page numbers, titles, dates, and more to the top and bottom margins of every page. By default, the header and footer margins match the normal text margins set for the document. However, you may want to create a wider or narrower header/footer area without affecting the main text margins.

This article explains step-by-step how to change the header margins independently from the normal text margins in Microsoft Word.

Why Adjust Header Margins

Here are some common reasons you may want to adjust header margins separately from regular text margins:

  • To accommodate wider images or text in the header/footer areas without squishing main text
  • To create more separation between header/footer text and document body
  • To align header/footer text with pre-printed letterhead
  • To set different margins for first page headers/footers, such as wider margins to fit a logo

View Current Header Margins

Before making any changes, check what margins are currently set for your header area:

  1. Double-click inside the header area to switch into header editing view
  2. Go to the Layout tab > Page Setup group > Click the Margins button
  3. The margins dialogue box will show the current header margins

By default, these should match the regular text margins you have set for the document.

Change Header Margins

To set new header margins without affecting text margins:

  1. Double-click inside the header to enter header editing view
  2. Go to Layout tab > Page Setup group
  3. Click the small arrow at the bottom-right of the Margins button
  4. Select Custom Margins
  5. Under Headers and footers, set new values for Header margin and Footer margin
  6. Click OK

The header margins will now be changed without affecting the normal text margins.

Set Different First Page Header Margins

You can also set unique header margins for just the first page of a document:

  1. Double-click inside the header and go to the Design tab
  2. Check the box for Different First Page
  3. Set new header margins specifically for the First Page Header
  4. Uncheck the Different First Page box when done

Now your first page will have independent header margins from the rest of the document pages.

Adjust Header Position

If you want to shift the vertical position of headers up or down without affecting margins, you can adjust header paragraph spacing:

  1. Double-click inside the header and highlight all text
  2. Go to Home tab > Paragraph section
  3. Under Spacing, adjust Before and After spacing values

Adding spacing will push headers down without changing margins. This is useful for creating space between headers and text.

Set Horizontal Header Text Margins

To change the area that horizontal text can occupy within the header:

  1. Double-click inside the header and highlight all text
  2. Go to the Layout tab > Paragraph section
  3. Adjust the Left and Right indent values

This will set the text margins within the header section itself, allowing you to create a narrower band of header text without changing the full header margins.

Troubleshooting Tips

  • Make sure to exit header editing mode after making changes by double-clicking on the main document body
  • For indented header text, adjust indent values not margins
  • If changes don’t apply correctly, select all header text and clear any manual formatting


Adjusting Microsoft Word header margins separately from regular text margins is simple once you know how. Using the custom margins dialogue box gives you precise control over header whitespace.

Set unique header margins for first pages, adjust vertical header positions, or change horizontal text margins within headers for optimal page layouts and text alignment.

Now you know how to tweak header margins in Word documents without impacting the body text margins!

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