Answered By: Kathryn Park
Last Updated: Oct 27, 2020     Views: 128499

For an APA header you need the title of your paper on the left, and the page number on the right. The header on the first page is a little different -- you need the words Running head: before the title on the title page. Here is how to do it in Word. For Office 365 the instructions are a little different. If you are on a small scree, you may need to rotate your device to landscape mode to see all options in Word. 

  1. Go to the Insert page in Word. Select Header from the Header & Footer section.
  2. From the ribbon select the header pull down menu and select the Blank (Three columns) option.
  3. You’ll put your title in column one, delete column 2. Highlight column 3 and from the ribbon select current position> plain number.
  4. Type the title of the paper in all caps.  If it is over fifty characters, use a shortened version of the title.
  5. After typing the title, place the cursor immediately to the left of the page number.  Press page until the page number is on the right of the page.
  6. Select the Different First Page option at the top center.  Make sure you are on the first page and repeat steps 3-5, but include the words 'Running head:' before entering the title.

For Office 365:

  1. From the ribbon select insert> Header & Footer.
  2. By default the Blank (Three columns) option is you header.
  3. Put your title in column one, nothing in column 2.
  4. In column 3 select Page Numbers from the ribbon and select the correct number position, with the number showing in the upper right corner. 

You can see more in our Tips for Formatting Your Paper in Word

Comments (27)

  1. This does not work.
    by Kevin on Dec 17, 2017.
  2. Thanks Kevin. The instructions have been revised.
    by Kathryn Park on Jan 10, 2018.
  3. I put the running head in but it disappears on page 17. Page 2-16 work - then poof, it's gone!

    I'm sorry Wendolyn! This is something that we'd need to help you with in the library. Bring in your document and or your device to the library lab and we'll help troubleshoot it for you.
    by Wendolyn on Jan 18, 2018.
  4. Thank you so much. I was having trouble putting a recurring page number but the tittle would disappear. Thank you so much!
    by Vicky on May 05, 2018.
  5. Thank you! Worked like a charm! Been trying to do this for over a year unsuccessfully until I found your directions.
    by K. Williams on Dec 09, 2018.
  6. Thank you so much. This is such a priceless resource!
    by Shelly, RN, BSN, PCCN on Jan 06, 2019.
  7. This may be a stupid question but why does the words Running head stay on page 1? When I went to print it does not show on following pages but does on the first.
    by C. Sanders on Feb 23, 2019.
  8. Without being able to look at the document, I can't say for sure C. Sanders.
    Try going to the ribbon>layout>page setup and select tiny arrow in the right corner.
    Select the Layout tab. You will see a number of options. One of them is Different first page. If that is selected, de-select it. There is also an option near the bottom that lets you apply to Whole Document to this point forward. You might try expriementing with that as well. Good luck!
    by Kathryn Park on Feb 25, 2019.
  9. I followed your steps exactly & it worked beautifully! Thanks!!!
    by Kirsten Faith on May 22, 2019.
  10. I dont have a "page" button. Does tab work?
    by Matt Doe on Jun 10, 2019.
  11. Hi Matt Doe. Yes, you can use the tab function to move your page number.
    by Kathryn Park on Jun 10, 2019.
  12. Thanks this was very helpful!!
    by Alana on Jul 06, 2019.
  13. I've tried this multiple times and it doesn't work. It's either the header or the page number. I can't get both on one page.
    by Jessica on Jul 15, 2019.
  14. Sorry Jessica! This still works for us and others. Your best bet is to go to a local library where you or college lab where you can get in person help.
    by Kathryn Park on Jul 20, 2019.
  15. Doesn't work for me anymore either! I can get running head or page # --NOT BOTH!
    by Jude on Aug 10, 2019.
  16. The only workaround I was able to come up with is to insert the page number first, then retype in the running head and tab the page number. Cumbersome to do but it works.
    by Jude on Aug 10, 2019.
  17. For those not able to create a running head, I have slightly re-worded the steps.

    For MS Word: The key is to: 1) From the ribbon select the header pull down menu and select the Blank (Three columns) option. 2) You’ll put your title in column one, delete column 2. Highlight column 3 and from the ribbon select current position> plain number.

    For Office 365: 1) From the ribbon select insert> Header & Footer. By default the Blank (Three columns) option is you header. 2) Put your title in column one, nothing in column 2 and in column 3 select Page Numbers from the ribbon> choose the correct number position, with the number showing in the upper right corner.

    Of course you must also be in MS Word. This was most recently tried in Word 16 & Office 365.
    by Kathryn Park on Sep 16, 2019.
  18. One would think Microsoft could create something so simple and common but apparently this is beyond comprehension. I have worked on this for an hour and all the instructions I have read are COMPLETELY useless. Can I have the hour of my life back?
    by Charles on Oct 06, 2019.
  19. Sorry Charles. The instructions still work for us as is, in Word 16 & Office 365. If you are a student I recommend going to your school writing center or library to get one on one help.
    by Kathryn Park on Oct 07, 2019.
  20. For those struggling (like I was), I had the issue that I would type my running head, then either tab over or select the third column and enter the page number and it would delete my running head. I figured out what I was doing wrong! When you go to the Page number drop down, DO NOT go to "Top of Page" > "Plain Number 3". Instead, go to "Current Position" > "Plain Number". Even though the image for it shows a left justified 1, if you selected the location where you want the number prior to entering the menu, it will place the number in your current position and preserve your running head. Good luck!
    by Lauren on Oct 14, 2019.
  21. This is good for formatting the first two pages, but after this, I can't get the page numbers to be different. I edit one and they all change. The first page stays nice and neat, but if I have multiple more pages it doesn't work.
    by Noel Schafer on Nov 08, 2019.
  22. Sorry Noel. This still works for us. Sometimes trouble shooting has to be done in person so I recommend going to your library or writing center where you can get face to face help.
    by Kathryn Park on Nov 09, 2019.
  23. Thanks Lauren. Our steps are still working for us, but maybe this will help someone for whom it's not working. And for anyone who is a student, going in person to your college library or writing center for face to face help can the quickest way to resolve the problem.
    by Kathryn Park on Nov 09, 2019.
  24. I tried this multiple times, and every time I was unable to get both the header and the page number up there. One or the other, but not both. In the end I found that you have to put the document name in the header, and the page numbering at the bottom, separately. Or vice versa. Document name and page numbering are like a husband and wife who don't get on well. You have to keep them apart. Hope this helps.
    by RobC on Jan 08, 2020.
  25. I had the same problem! Finally, I found the solution! Once you ender your heading, tab over to where the number should go and insert number and select current position then escape!
    by Charlotte Jacobs on Feb 04, 2020.
  26. Thank you so much. These were the best instructions I found on the internet. I had a slight problem with the Running head comment showing up on the first page but thankfully you had already addressed this with someone else and your solution took care of the problem.
    by BMcBride on Oct 26, 2020.
  27. RUNNING HEAD: THANK-YOU SO MUCH IT WORKED PERFECTLY. ONLY IF YOU FOLLOW IT TO THE LETTER, THE ADVICE WORKS GREAT. YOU HAVE TO GET USED TO THE INSTRUCTION LAYOUT, AND I SHOULD HAVE PRINTED THEM INSTEAD OF GOING BACK AND FORTH. THANKS AGAIN !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :-) PS, strangely, every class I have has required writing, but the school doesn't teach MS Word in any detail like this.
    by Matthew H Harrah on Jan 23, 2021.

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