Getting Started – Getting Better

Affinity Publisher

Affinity Publisher: Master Pages and Specialized Text


As we’ve discussed before, in Affinity Publisher all content fits into container boxes. This includes specialized text such as chapter titles, footers, footnotes, the Table of Contents, etc.

In order for these fields to appear, you’ll need to draw a text box into your corresponding Master Page(s) and set the rules for the box.

Building Master Pages

Before formatting any actual books, I strongly urge building a template you can pull up for all books going forward. It will take a while to build the initial template (at first), but once it’s done, you can open it, save-as, and save a huge amount of time with each new book going forward. Creating the Master Pages is the most time-consuming part of formatting. Once it’s done, the rest is faster and simpler.

Create a new book and save as TEMPLATE.afpub.

I typically build Master Pages in the following order, before entering any content. It’s the simplest way to build pages with consistent margins and alignment

  • Title Page (with an image box, if using one for your title)
  • Main Body Text Page – both sides the same and the text linked to overflow. Header at the top and footer with page number fields at the bottom.
  • New Chapter Left Page – copy the Main Body Text Page. Using the Node tool node tool, delete the header on the left side of the page. Then using the move tool node, move the top of the text to start about halfway down, or slightly higher. Draw a Chapter Title box above it and define font size/alignment/etc.
  • New Chapter Right Page – copy the New Chapter Left Page, and use the Move tool move tool to swap the boxes from left to right and vice versa.
  • End Chapter Right Page – copy the Main Body Text Page. The only change you’ll need to make here (other than renaming it) will be changing the vertical alignment on the second page from justified to top.
  • End Main Text Left Page – this is only used when the last page of your last chapter ends on the left side. Copy the New Chapter Right Page and delete all fields on the right page.
  • End Matter Page(s) – These pages can be handled in more than one way. One option is to copy the Main Body Text Page, using the Node tool node tool to delete both header and footer. Vertical alignment for the notes to the author, back library, etc., is at your discretion and may include top, justified, centered, etc. However, because these pages can vary drastically in content – a half-dozen lines of a Note from the Author page, followed by two or three pages of the author’s back library, I often simply create a set of blank Master Pages and draw the text boxes directly onto those pages, so I can adjust aligntment and other details as needed.

Page Numbers

Most books I’ve seen put page numbers at the bottom. My personal preference – because I’m lazy and it’s easiest – is to design a Master Page with a thin text box at the bottom, with the font size set to 10pt, aligned center with no indents, and vertically aligned to the bottom of the text box. To insert page numbers, click the box to highlight and go to Text > Insert > Fields > Page Number.

You’ll need to add a text box and insert the page-number field on every page where you want a page number to appear.

Adjusting Page Number Start

By default, Affinity numbers your pages starting from the first page – the title page or excerpt page, whichever you use. However, most people want their page numbers to begin with Page 1 on the first page of the first chapter, or the prologue/introduction.

To change where Page 1 starts, the page will need to exist. I.e., you’ll need create a title page, copyright page, front matter pages (if any), and the page where your numbering begins. Creating the Master Pages doesn’t count. There needs to be an actual page, showing up lower left, like this:

Once you’ve found the chronological page number per Affinity, you’ll want to start a new Section on that page. Go to Document > Section Manager and click the New Section icon to define a new section. Specify the page – in this case, page 5 – where you want the section to begin; specify to start numbing at 1; then give the section a name. After those fields are updated, click Close. The page number will change from whatever it was before to a #1, and all subsequent pages will be adjusted automatically.

Different Page Number Styles

Yes, you can put page numbers on the outside margin. Simply set the alignment to left or right in the master template, so the page number is away from the interior margin (the wider section in the middle.)

Other options include having the page number at the top of the page, in the header with the author name/title. When doing this, you’ll need to create separate thin text boxes for the page number and for the title on each of the relevant Master Pages. (Now you can see why I opt for the lazy way out.)

Chapter Titles

Yes, a chapter title can and should have its own designated text box. Start it about a third of the way down the Master Page, choose font size, alignment (both horizontal and vertical in the box) and whether it’s bold or italic. (Reminder: at this time, Affinity Publisher doesn’t permit both bold and italic on the same text.)

The main chapter text box then begins below the Chapter Title box. The two boxes should ideally touch but not overlap. This will help keep alignment consistent when swapping from left to right.

Title, Author Name, and Chapter Title Headers

It’s typical to include the title and author name on each page of the main text except the first page of a new chapter. These are fairly straighforward to create.

Draw a narrow text box at the top of the page(s) where you want the text to appear. (This is one of several reasons I build the Main Body Text Page first – everything will be lined up on both sides.) Set text alignment, size, etc. I typically center the author name on pages on the right, and the book title on the pages on the left. Then I align vertically to the top to give things a slightly larger margin between header and main body text.

Some trad-published books post the book title on one side and the chapter title on the other. While this is also possible, it will require leaving the chapter-title side header blank on the Master Page, so it can be filled in chapter-by-chapter.

Table of Contents

Affinity Publisher will create an automatic Table of Contents only if your chapter headers use their preformatted “Header” delineation. This has already been brought to the Affinity team’s attention as an issue. For now, the workaround if you need a Table of Contents is to create headers using the Paragraph Style dropdown; create a text box on your chosen page; click inside the box and select TOC (Text > Table of Contents). After the TOC is created, go back and re-edit the chapter headers to your preferred style.


Indexes are more complex to build, because they require both the index function and identifying words/phrases to be indexed. I’ll create a separate post with the details to create one.

Next Lesson: TBD

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