Why Does the Footer Expand?

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated May 4, 2024)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021


Rosalie has set the footer of her document to be a half inch. As she adds more text to the footer, it keeps expanding beyond the half inch Rosalie specified. She wonders why the footer doesn't stay fixed at a half inch and simply hide the text that cannot fit in that space.

The simple (and only) answer is because this is how Microsoft designed footers to behave. In other programs (such as InDesign), text is placed in what are called text frames and, if there is too much text to display in the frame, then it is considered an "overrun." The program requires you to resolve the overrun in order for the user to see whatever isn't displayed in the frame. Plus, a small red icon indicator is displayed at the lower-right corner of the text frame to indicate there is an overrun.

You could, if desired, simulate somewhat similar behavior in Word—all you would need to do is to place a text box within your footer area, make the text box a half inch in height, and configure it to not expand as additional text is added. Now, as you add additional text, the text box won't expand and the added text is not displayed because it is impossible to display it in the available space.

This obviously raises the question of why you would want to do this. There is no check, within Word, for text that overruns a text box, so it would never be sensed and no chance to correct it provided. In other words, the text that overruns the text box would be invisible unless you just happen to click the text box and either change its settings or use the arrow keys to move through the text.

It is probably this last condition—that overrun footer text would be forever unknown because of invisibility—that factored in Microsoft just allowing the footer to expand to display all it contains.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (13920) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021.

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 less than 8?

2024-05-04 04:47:04

Ron S

What Allen edited out of my reply (as is his right ... <G>) is that from day 1 (in the 1980s!) Word was designed to be used to create a document on one computer, then ultimately to print it. There was no internet, heck there was not even corporate networks, just the "sneaker net" (copy file to a very small capacity "floppy" disk, use you sneakers to hot foot the file over to the other computer!)

What would be the point of creating footnotes that were lost in printing?

That "print centric" philosophy has not changed since then (would be too difficult/expensive).

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