Running headers and footers explained
Running headers and footers are parts of a book. Learn how you can use them effectively.
Running headers and footers are displayed at the top and bottom of pages. The running head is at the top of the page and the running foot is at the bottom. They can contain the title of the book, page numbers, a part of a book, a chapter, a section, or any other reference point. They are on most, but not all pages.
Running headers and footers placement.
There are particular pages where it is accepted practice not to place running headers and footers. The title page and copyright page, for instance, need not have them at all. It looks cluttered.
Like many book designers, I have a tendency to over design. I always take a fresh look at my design, and take away what is not necessary. This applies to anything I create, as well as the design of running headers and footers.
The title page of a chapter need not have them either, but most other pages of a book should give the reader some guidance as to where they are in the book they are reading.
Detailed or not …
Think about functionality for the reader.
Children’s picture books and board books need not have any running headers and footers. The exception would be a book with many pages. Then, you would want to put just a page number.
Novels and most other books with have a stationery folio (page number) and header or footer consisting of the book title on the left hand page. The right-hand page would be the chapter number or chapter title, depending on how the book is organized by the author.
Books with weighty subject matter should consider using the left-hand page footer or header for the chapter, and the right-hand page footer or header for each individual section.
Highly detailed manuals or reference books may opt to use the left-hand page for the sections, and the right-hand page for specific material on the page or pages.
The mechanics of creating running headers and footers.
The more detailed the book, the more work it is to create running headers and footers.
Start by looking though other books that are similar in size, content, and perhaps subject matter of the book you are designing. Decide what is functional for the reader. Then determine what is necessary for the book design. There is no hard and fast rule about whether to use headers, footers, or both. Just remember that the material in the book should dominate, not the running heads and footers. They are only a functional and / or ornamental guide for the reader.
In InDesign, I create a book first. Then, I create the sections or chapters within the book. If compiling a novel without images, this might not be necessary. I tend to design a lot of photography books, art book, and coffee table books. They all have many high resolution images, so it helps to break a book up into manageable sections.
I set up masters, and then apply the masters to pages. I hope this guide helped, but remember, you can hire us to design your book for you, complete with running headers and footers!
Also see the post on Foreword, Preface and Introduction.