“Page X of Y”

While leafing through a company’s template contracts today, I noticed that they use the page-number format Page X of Y.

This page-numbering format offers two benefits. First, it lets the reader know how long the document is. And second, it precludes anyone from surreptitiously tacking on additional pages post-signing.

But I don’t find those advantages particularly compelling. If readers want to know how long a contract is, all they need to do is flip once to the signature page—they don’t need to be constantly reminded. And it’s unlikely that anyone could successfully perpetrate a let’s-add-some-extra-pages-at-the-end fraud.

And a disadvantage to this page-numbering format is that it’s rather busy. To my mind, that disadvantage outweighs the ostensible benefits, so that’s why I don’t use this format.

About the author

Ken Adams is the leading authority on how to say clearly whatever you want to say in a contract. He’s author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, and he offers online and in-person training around the world. He’s also chief content officer of LegalSifter, Inc., a company that combines artificial intelligence and expertise to assist with review of contracts.

10 thoughts on ““Page X of Y””

  1. Page numbers makes it easy to check if a page is missing and they are great for random access when having to consult the agreement after signature.

  2. I don’t think Ken is suggesting not using page numbering at all. He’s commenting more on the form “Page X of Y Pages.”

    I’ll note one other disadvantage of this format, it’s frequently done incorrectly and prone to errors. I’m not sure how it happens, but people clearly use the wrong auto-numbering feature and it will end up something like: 9 of 7. This might also happen if there are different sections specified in a document like main document, appendix and exhibits.

  3. I generally use Page x of y. Some of my clients prefer to have signatures appear on the first page, and this system helps make sure all pages are present.

  4. Ken:

    I generally use page X of Y because I generally have the signature on the front page.

    It is truly aggrqavating when the Y part breaks, though.


  5. As to Mike’s comment… I have found that going back and forth between drafters (Mac to PC, or Word 2007 to 2003) creates the “9 of 7” problem, and I have also stopped using it, and have gone so far as to delete it in contracts that I receive from the other side for review.

  6. For those of you who use the “Page X of Y Pages,” do you also count any addendum/exhibit pages? Do you print it on those pages as well? What if the exhibit is a photocopy of an external document, such as a deed or note? Do you manually type the “Page X of Y Pages” on that document?

  7. I do not understand the disadvantageous of Page x of Y. It is not “busy.” It helps dissuade the addition of pages after signature

    The “Page 9 of 7” problem is easy to fix and should not serve as a deterrent.

    Re: Roy
    If I use page x of y, I include all documents that are part of the contract in page x of y.
    You can incorporate the addendums/exhibits into the soft copy of the contract.
    If this is difficult/impossible, I drop the page x of y.
    It is also useful to list all of the attachments on the signature page.

  8. Imagine a page lands on your fax machine. If you rely on the signature sheet for the length of the document you won’t know what to expect until the last page. Page 1 of 10 tells you exactly what to expect from the start. If it says ‘Page 1 of 100’ you know you have time for a coffee.

    Consider also an assistant who is collecting a document but is not expected to read it. They only need to check the corners of the pages. You are forcing them to look at the whole sheet instead.

    If you think it too busy ‘1 of 10’ would suffice.

  9. I think “page x of y” numbering really shows its value when you are an in-house attorney. Once you’re in-house, you routinely are doing amendments, analysis, and restated versions of previously executed contracts. Without “page x of y” it can be extremely difficult to figure out whether or not you have all the pages of the deal in hand. This is particularly true for exhibits that contain specifications and other text that is not provided in numbered sections. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had debates with a vendor about whether or not their work complied with specifications and found out that I was missing 30 pages that I needed. It’s also straightforward to format in the final draft before you sign, so the fact that people screw it up in previous drafts should not be a deterrent.


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