Headers in Word online (web)

Copper Contributor

We are talking about the browser version of Word.

We have a shared document in Sharepoint. (In fact, the problem is with all documents, but we take 1 as an example).

For one user, when opening this document, the header and footer are immediately visible. To edit them, you need to click on the button near the Header, or double-click on the header. And you can edit in the header and footer section. But they are visible immediately when opening any document with headers and footers.



And for another user (and the majority of such users), when opening a document in same mode, as for the first user, the header and footer are not visible.


Until you go into Preview mode. Or you won’t click the Header button and the section where you can edit the header won’t open.



Users have the same rights, they log into 365 from the one computer. From the one Windows account and the one browser. Only the login in 365 changes.

It was tested in several browsers on Windows and MacOS. If you log in as one user, you immediately see headers and footers. If you log in as another user, you don’t see headers and footers in that document. Until you go into preview mode, or edit the footer. On any OS and in any browser the result is the same.

It looks like there are differences in user rights. But my users have the same rights and access to the same groups.

May-be, I'm missing something?

5 Replies


I know that you are not going to want to hear this.


First, those are user settings. If one user were to log in as a different user, they would both see the same thing.


Second, in my opinion, the browser Word program is not at all good for editing or creating important documents. Have people use the desktop applications.


See Compare Word features on different platforms. (this is an archival copy) current page is Word Features Comparison: Web vs Desktop.

  • There are multiple programs, all named Word, and all created and published by Microsoft. This can be confusing when trying to get help.
  • They all can edit the same document files that have the same file structure. Some of the programs have no control over some of the document structures.
  • They may all be called Microsoft 365 or Word 365 if using the subscription plan. If it is called Office 2021 (2019, 2016, etc.) it is the perpetual license version which is only the desktop programs.
  • But, they are different programs with different features and controls.


As of February, 2024, the most powerful Word program, with the most features, remains the Windows desktop application from Microsoft 365. I do not expect that to change. The perpetual license version Word 2021 is very close as far as features but does not receive new features as added. The perpetual license versions of Office/Word is only the desktop applications and does not include the online or mobile versions.


The Macintosh desktop application is second with number of features. The things available in the Windows version not yet on the Mac version include Content Controls, Building Blocks, UserForms, and ActiveX. It can use, but cannot create, or modify most Content Controls. AutoText is a Building Block that the Mac can and does use.


The browser version of Word – Word Online – has a Transcribe feature that has recently been added to the Windows desktop version of Microsoft 365’s Word. It also has the ability to Export to PowerPoint (although not that usefully). Otherwise, the browser version has far fewer features and editing in it has been reported to mess up automatic numbering. Chromebooks use a version of this or of the Android mobile app. See How to access Microsoft Office on a Chromebook. This can only be used with documents stored on OneDrive or SharePoint. Differences between using a document in the browser and in the Word desktop application. I would use this for note taking and for quick viewing/printing, but not for editing. Especially not for editing long or complex documents. The ability to mess these up is too high.


The mobile applications (Android/IOS, etc.) vary somewhat but have far fewer features. I would use them for note taking and for quick viewing/printing, but not for editing. Especially not for editing long or complex documents. Primarily these can only be used with documents on OneDrive or SharePoint. (Usually, you can get at documents on your local device, but it is tricky.) What you can do in the Microsoft 365 apps on mobile devices with a Microsoft 365 subscription See also Word for Android Phones Help, Word for Android Tablets HelpWord for iPhone Help, Word for iPad Help.


Note that the statements about capabilities and usefulness are my opinions, not anything from Microsoft. They are based on my use and on my observations over the years here and in other Word forums. In my opinion, none of the versions is perfect. They can all be useful, recognizing their limitations.

@Charles_Kenyon , You spent a lot of time and effort answering my question. Thank you! Thanks for answering NOT my question. I wish your dog (may-be cat) good health. It is very important. And it has no relation to my question like your answer.

I hope for an answer specifically about the web version of Word.


My response was and is about the browse/web/online Word program. It is not a substitute for the desktop applications. How these appear are individual settings for each user logged in.


You are not going to get an answer on how to change other people's settings using the online version of the Word program. If this is a corporate setting, it may be something that can be addressed through group policies, but that would be stretching. I say it would be stretching because the settings may well be individual browser settings rather than Word settings. That I do not know, though.

Thank you! This answer is much closer to my question. Please note that both users access 365 through the same browser on the same computer. The first user left 365, the second sat in his place and logged into his 365 account through the same browser. (2 users of 365, but 1 PC (or Mac), 1 windows/mac account, 1 browser.)
And the result is the same if both users do this through Safari, Chrome, Opera..


And the result is the same if both users do this through Safari, Chrome, Opera..

To clarify:

The result that they see different layouts when they open the document is the same?


I double-checked and at least in Word online, there are no user settings. I also checked to see if the way the user last saved/opened a document has any influence over how either that document or another document appears when opened. It does not.


It is a conundrum. Better minds than mine have noticed that sometimes there is no answer.