So there I was, trying to ask a question (now on SO) on Webmaster.SE partly involving a 'header' and a 'footer'. One part of my code defines shared aspects of both the header and the footer.

Anyway to cut a long story short, I became somewhat stuck as to what I wanted to name the class they share. All I could come up with was Xer, HeaderFooter and sandwich. Similar word groups like 'suffix' and 'prefix' give me the same issue, coming up with Xfix which is just awful nomenclature!

What categorically describes both headers and footers?

Commentary: I am *not* concerned about the web design/coding aspect of this at all. 
I could easily just use:

for my particular case if that were the issue. I'm referring to header/footer as it 
applies to any document or setting in the English language.

Final Results: Best coinage is Running Marginals with runner-up, Horizontal Ribbons. I've chosen Running Sections as the correct answer as this phrase is already in use while awarding bounty to Marginals (which eventually became running marginals) as this is a more relate-able terminology.

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    For 'suffix' and 'prefix', consider 'affix'. I'm drawing a blank on a common word for (page) header and trailer, too. May 6, 2011 at 6:13
  • 1
    How about, titles?
    – Thursagen
    May 10, 2011 at 2:54
  • 7
    marginals might do May 11, 2011 at 16:42
  • 2
    @FumbleFingers: I think marginals is a great suggestion. It's simple and descriptive, even if it might not be exactly technically right. You should post this as an answer so I can upvote it.
    – Kit Z. Fox
    May 12, 2011 at 17:04
  • 1
    @Kit: We've a way to go before it becomes the industry standard term, but my answer and your upvote will get us started! Journey of a thousand miles and all that... May 12, 2011 at 21:43

11 Answers 11


From publication: Running head and footer.

Running sections?

Edit So this would become div.Running or equivalent.

  • 4
    I currently work as a typesetter (all digital, but still) and we call header/footers Running Elements, and the veterans of yesteryear refer to them as Running Blocks. So I agree with some variation of "Running"
    – WSkid
    May 12, 2011 at 9:52
  • 2
    Maybe "Runners"
    – Kit Z. Fox
    May 12, 2011 at 17:06
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    @Garet, when you go with something derived from margin(s), remember that it usually indicates space around the content (by definition in typography) and not content/information around the content. May 13, 2011 at 20:33
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    @Garet, you are welcome. I only know it because I designed my highschool yearbook. Good luck with your code! May 16, 2011 at 19:53
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    Thanks! Had a hard time to find a word, and "margins" just doesn't cut it because it can also define horizontal spaces, or in case of code, often define blank spaces around an item. Jul 4, 2014 at 19:43

This is a somewhat late answer. Not because I'm suddenly interested in the bounty, but because I assumed someone else would know the 'correct' answer.

It's now become clear there isn't currently any single term with established significance that specifically means 'headers and footers', so we're looking for a new coinage or specialised use of existing words.

I therefore propose marginals.

In principle headers/footers might be vertical marginals, as opposed to horizontal marginals on the sides of the main text. In practice you'd rarely need to reference the horizontal type, because we don't usually put 'repeating' text there in print (that's where the reader pencils in his own notes).

We could replace headers with top marginals, and footers with bottom marginals. So we'd end up with one less specialised term to remember, rather than one more.

  • 1
    @Garet Claborn: I think running only gets in on the act to avoid confusion between, for example, footers (which run the same text page after page), and footnotes (which are peculiar to the page they appear on). It's a bit misleading anyway, because 'marginals' often include stuff like 'Section Title', 'Page Number', etc., which change across pages. May 12, 2011 at 23:29
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    @Garet Claborn: I don't really do much Desktop Publishing, or even Word Processing, but I doubt footnotes would go in the footer from any package's point of view. You generally define the contents of the footer once per document, possibly including 'variables' for stuff like 'PageNo'. Footnotes may be present on some pages, but whatever goes in one is highly unlikely to appear on any other pages. May 13, 2011 at 0:42
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    Exactly. Sometimes all the actual notes are at the end of the chapter or book, but sometimes they're right there at the bottom of the page refering to them. It's not unusual to have both types in a single document, in which case there may be different symbols next to the 'reference numbers' so you know where to go. May 13, 2011 at 0:53
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    Hmm, what about "running marginals" to distinguish headers and footers from "static marginals", which might be footnotes or such? Neologisms are so exciting! And not to be nitpicky, but given the site, I feel I should suggest that it's one fewer specialised term to remember, rather than one less. ;-)
    – Kit Z. Fox
    May 13, 2011 at 1:04
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    @Fumble: +.5, if you want to see the other .5, add some pictures to your answer ;) May 13, 2011 at 2:28

The guys and girls at Microsoft couldn't think of a single good unambiguous name either, so they settled on Header & Footer

MS Word Header and Footer

Neither, apparently, could the folks at Corel Write

enter image description here

While over at Google they didn't bother grouping them at all (the red circle is mine)

Google Docs didn't bother grouping them

Neither did the Open Office team

Open office did't bother either

  • 5
    @Ed Guiness: I don't get it. Does your post get updated because of the pretty pictures? OP asks for an alternative to headers and footers, you suggest headers and footers, and this is apparently the best answer. I don't want to seem contentious, but how is this an answer at all, let alone the best? May 12, 2011 at 20:37
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    @FumbleFingers: What's the problem here? This answer provides clear visual proof that user interface designers for word processing programs, who have reason to care about this particular topic more than just about anyone else in the world, have been unable to come up with any such word; therefore, there probably isn't one. Sounds good to me.
    – phenry
    May 12, 2011 at 22:40
  • I will say I found this pretty useful and at least on topic, but at the same time I was really hoping to get away from the developer side of things into just plain old vocabulary. Still I really liked knowing that something has stumped these folks ;P May 12, 2011 at 23:22
  • @phenry: The problem is OP didn't ask whether it's true that there's no existing term with widespread currency - by implication, he already knows that. He asked for a word that he could use. May 12, 2011 at 23:34
  • @FumbleFingers: While I agree that the OP probably knew that there was no single word for this, often an OP won't know that there isn't a single word. I think it helps to show that there might be good reasons for it. This post shows that there doesn't appear to be a word that most people would understand, necessitating a coining of a new word, thus risking that nobody will understand it. May 13, 2011 at 14:13

There is no commonly used name regrouping both footers and headers, so the question you have to ask yourself is “do I want to create a new term, or will this new terminology put off users?”

If you want to create a word for that, I would suggest:

  • banners: the obvious drawback is that it's already taken, at least in the context of a webpage
  • ribbons: emphasizing that those are horizontal blocks of text
  • if you talk about all elements which adorn the page without being the core of the page itself, you could go with adornments, ornaments, etc.
  • the most generic term I can think of would be blocks, as in blocks of text, which you can qualify to your heart’s desire: fixed blocks, title blocks, etc.

But no solution seems perfect.

  • Sorry, I'll think about this but I am almost positive there is a rather obscure terminology I read a loooong time ago. It is vaguely possible I saw it in an old version of Corel.. If you're right and I'm just too stubborn you have my apologies. May 9, 2011 at 13:43
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    do I want to create a new term... - he's choosing a name for a css class, so users will never see it, whatever he uses.
    – UpTheCreek
    May 10, 2011 at 13:17
  • Seems rather obvious you are right there is no presently standard term :) May 16, 2011 at 0:03
  • @UpTheCreek I know this thread is old enough to go to high school soon, but when naming css classes, other collaborators are the users
    – Viktor Sec
    Feb 3, 2021 at 16:41

To be able to find a word for this, we need to look at what headers and footers have in common. What characterizes headers and footers? Well, they are both text segments located in either the top edge or the bottom edge of a document. Maybe something like "edge text" or "margin text"?

  • @Shathur: It seems pretty clear by now there isn't currently any single term with established significance, so we're looking for a new coinage or specialised use of existing words. I quite like your thinking, and wonder if marginals might be a good contender. In principle headers/footers might be vertical marginals, as opposed to horizontal marginals on the sides of the main text. May 11, 2011 at 16:36
  • @FumbleFingers marginals as in margins? In publishing, margins, bleed, header and footer are all different things. Yet I get what you're thinking... May 11, 2011 at 17:24
  • @Derk-Jan Karrenbeld: Absolutely as in margins. My thinking being that horizontal (or side) marginals are far less common anyway. So you'd rarely need to specify the slightly awkward vertical, because that would be the default. Which is handy, because I can't think of a short common word corresponding to side in the vertical plane. May 11, 2011 at 17:43
  • @FumbleFingers Yes, something like that. "Margin" isn't used that much, anyway, to the extent of my experience. Still, I think it would be possible for a header and a footer to be coexistent in a document, which isn't too good for our new term. Additionally, it is only two things, which decreases the need for a single term. I think that explains why there isn't one already.
    – Shathur
    May 11, 2011 at 17:56
  • @Shathur: OP actually asked for a single term to cover both headers and footers, so the fact that you'd sometimes need to distinguish between those isn't relevant to whether marginals would fly. And now I come to think of it, we could dispense with header and footer altogether, and just start calling them top and bottom marginals. May 11, 2011 at 18:21

The terms come from typesetting and printing originally, and to my knowledge there is no term describing both header and footer.

However if you wanted to be creative, perhaps something like (though none are very good):

  • cap (as in ice cap)
  • ends
  • extremities

In the CSS3 Layout module these regions are called "slots". You could also call them regions, or end-regions.

You could also just make up something that combines the "there is no word for this" and the fact that you're coding and not speaking and just call it "hfRegion" or "affixRegion" or something similar.


I would consider the header and footers to be 'blocks' of content or data.


what if you try (vertical) bookends? :)


The bits of a web browser around the main display window is called the "chrome". As I build web applications for a living, I have taken the same approach when dealing with web apps/sites. That is, the bits around the main content are the "chrome", and that includes the header and footer. I don't think I'm alone in using this terminology; when I've used this term with other webby-type people they knew exactly what I meant.

  • I think I've heard of this somewhere, could you give any references? May 12, 2011 at 23:19
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    Unfortunately, no. My experience is almost entirely within conversations with other "webby" people.
    – user362
    May 13, 2011 at 15:23
  • I like "chrome", especially the implication that these parts subtly enhance the content with some shininess, but I think this would be easily confused with the web browser given the usage context.
    – Kit Z. Fox
    May 15, 2011 at 10:51

What about annotation panes/zones?

My inspiration for that suggestion comes from the user interface of an electron microscope that I operate, which allows placement of one or more floating "datazones". These areas are intended for static annotations (such as sample description, job no. and company logo,) as well as real-time image metadata (scale bar, detector ID, date, etc.), which are analagous to autoupdate fields that you would typically assign to the header or footer of a document page layout.

There is nothing that prevents placement of a datazone away from the edges of the image area, (i.e. outside of the top, bottom, left & right margin postions). However, there are unwritten laws of aesthetics, keeping with convention, and minimising disruption to/distraction from the main "content", etc., that lead to them nearly always being used to generate either a header or a footer bar.

  • It really is a good thought but I somewhat think it's a bit broader than header/footer. Interesting background story ;p Jun 23, 2011 at 16:54

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