Headers and Footers

Some of my friends have told me that some of my recent posts have been very good, but very technical with a limited audience. So, I am switching to common Visio features that may not be properly understood.

Anyone who has used Word or some of the other Office products are aware of a concept called Headers and Footers that seem to be common to all Office apps. They basically place common elements like page numbers or titles on each page of the document at the top or bottom of the page. Though Visio does have H&Fs, they are limited when compared to other Office apps. H&Fs were added to Visio to address a specific issue.

To add/change H&Fs to a Visio drawing, use the Print dialogue and select “Edit Header & Footer“. This will bring up a H&F dialogue.

This will allow you to add certain key elements to the left, center, right area of the top or bottom of the page. Note: this is the physical page that is printed, not the Visio page. If the Visio page prints on several physical pages (tiling) the H&Fs are on all of the pages.

Background Page

In Visio, there are two types of pages, foreground and background. When you print a Visio document, only the foreground pages print. So, what is the purpose of the background pages? They are there to apply common items into the background of a Visio page at consistent locations.

Visio comes from an engineering/architectural background and placing common information in consistent locations is normal and is not restricted to the top or bottom of the page.

Normally a Visio page will print on a single physical page. Sometimes the printer used does not support the page size the Visio page is created for. Engineering departments may have large format printers, but the legal department’s printers may only support letter/legal size paper. Sometimes the user wants to create a wall size drawing and is willing to tape the pages together. So, Visio supports page tiling while printing.

Why Background Pages?

Consider if there were no background pages. If you had a six page document and you wanted to number the pages in the upper right corner, you would need to place a text shape containing the page number at that location on all the pages. You could format the shape the way you wanted it on the first page and just copy that shape to the rest of the pages, but you would still need to change the number in those shapes to reflect each page’s number and make sure they are positioned consistently. 

If you decide to reorder the pages, then you would need to change all the shapes. Luckily Visio has “fields” that represent things like shape data, document information, page properties and other information from the Insert menu that can be inserted into a Text Block.

So, the Page information you would need, would be.

So once the original shape is updated to use the field that represents the page number, copying the shape to the other pages will make the shape reflect the correct page number for that page.

With background pages you can place this shape on one page, the background page, and it will appear on each foreground page that that the background page is attached to in the exact same position and the field values will reflect the values of the foreground page.

How do I know which pages are background pages?

You could check Page Setup for each page, but there is a subtle hint in the page name tabs at the bottom of the Visio Window. The background pages use an Italicized font and all are at the right end of the list. If you had changed Page-1 to be a background page, it would retain its name, but would be reordered to the right.

Background pages can be nested

Sometimes backgrounds have different common features, so you can attach a background page to a background page. For example, one background could be corporate branding, another could have departmental title blocks. So you could add the corporate branding as a background page to the various departmental background pages and then attach those backgrounds to the various foreground pages.

One size fits all

So, if you have an assortment of page sizes and orientations, do you need a background page for each combination? No, you can add smarts to the background pages so the background page adjusts to the foreground page it is attached to. So, how do you do that?

The background pages from the menu have “smarts” and can adjust. You can see the “smarts” by opening the shapesheet for a background page that the Design menu creates. So you can create a single background for portrait or landscape foreground pages.

The values of the Width and Height for the menu created background page are set to the Width and Height of the Foreground page.

Similar formulas can be set in the shapes, PinX & PinY, that are placed on the background page to position the shapes. 

Use a template

Once you have created or customized your background page, you want to protect it. If you open the Visio document containing the background with the intent of creating a new drawing, it is safer if the document you opened was a template. This will create a fresh document to work on that contains the background, avoiding the problem of the automatic save when you close, but you really wanted to do a Save As … Template.

 So Why does Visio have H&Fs?

Back in the early days, an engineering firm asked Visio Corp to add H&Fs so they could print their large format drawings on 8.5×11 and be able to identify the individual pages. Sometimes the individual pages were blank, but the firm still wanted the blank page printed with a H&F for legal reasons. The pages were bound and stored so that they could later prove what was on the page for a certain revision. Since then they have found better ways of storing archival material.

So, if you are printing (tiling) each Visio page on several physical pages consider H&Fs. Otherwise, stick to background pages.

Next Time…

Labels? Are they shapes?

John… Visio MVP in x-aisle


Published by johnvisiomvp

The original Visio MVP. I have worked with the Visio team since 1993