How to Insert Page Numbers in InDesign

It's both more complicated and more precise an art than you would imagine!
Total time: 2 minutes 

It's much more difficult to insert page numbers in InDesign than it is in Word. That's because InDesign is designed to give you more control over just about every aspect of your project, including the placement of page numbers.

In this guide, we aim to make inserting page numbers in an InDesign document as easy as possible!

Adobe InDesignAdobe InDesign ×1

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While not strictly necessary for simple projects where you just need to quickly insert page numbers into an InDesign document, I recommend you learn and utilize layering to help save you time and make fixing errors much easier.

I recommend you check out our guide to using layers in InDesign. It will show you all you need to know!

To create a new layer:

  • Access the "Layers" pane by pressing F7 on your keyboard or going to Windows > Layers.
  • Click the [+] button to add a new layer.
  • Double-click the new layer name to change the name to something like "page numbers."
  • Click "Okay."

Now, you're working on the specific layer that contains your page numbers.

Master Page InDesign

You must insert the page numbers into the master pages of your document.

  • On the far right toolbar, go to Pages.

At the top of the screen, you'll see either one or two master pages for your document. Changes made to a master page will carry over into all the specified pages of your document. (You can create multiple master pages [A, B, C, etc.] but we won't discuss that here.)

  • Select the first Master Page by clicking it to highlight it in blue.

You should now see the selected master page/s on the screen. This is where we will insert our page numbers.

Create a Textbox in InDesign

Depending on the kind of document you are making you'll need to decide where you want to place your page numbers.

  • For a general unbound series of pages, you'll likely just want to keep the page numbers at the bottom-right of each page.
  • For a classic book layout, you'll want to place the page numbers on the bottom-left of your first master page and the bottom-right of your second master page.

To create the text box:

  1. Select the text box icon [T].
  2. Click and drag where you'd like to place the box (align to the part of the page that you want).
  3. Change the alignment of the text cursor to be flush with the desired edge of the page (see below)
  4. Change the distance from the margin as desired (see below)
Text Alignment in InDesign
Current Page Number in InDesign

You need to repeat this step on each of the document's master pages, in order for the page numbers to appear on all your pages. Remember that when you place something in your master page, it appears on the corresponding pages of your document, including page numbers.

To insert page numbers:

  1. Make sure your text cursor is selected and blinking.
  2. Change the font and font size as desired. (Can be done later.)
  3. Right-click.
  4. Go to Insert Special Character > Markers > Current Page Number.

On the master page, you'll see a letter like "A" appear. Don't worry. InDesign does not assign an actual number to your master page, so it uses letters instead.

Repeat this step on the other master page, making sure to mirror all the settings you used.

Page Numbers in InDesign

You can't see the page numbers in the master pages.

  • Click on the Pages tab again on the right side of InDesign.
  • Choose a set of pages you want to view below.
  • Double-click the desired page/s.

You should be able to see your page numbers, and they should be in order. If there's something wrong, then changing the settings in our next step should take care of the issue.

Page Number Settings in InDesign

To access the page number settings:

  • Go to Layout > Numbering and Section Options;
  • Or, right-click the pages on the right side of the screen and choose Numbering and Section Options.

From here you can change multiple things about your page numbers, like style (including Roman numerals) or where you'd like the page numbers to begin (or keep automatic).

If you add more pages to your project, the page numbers should automatically continue.