Setting Up Word Numbering and Multi-level Lists



Bullets and numbering pose a problem in Word. They are complicated. Word tries to be very helpful and predict what you want, with sometimes very peculiar consequences.

It is easy enough to insert bulleted lists or numbered lists, but it is not so easy to control exactly how they look and behave once you are working with larger or more complex documents.
If you don't use styles...
...then your best course of action is to do the Microsoft on-line training to learn exactly how Microsoft intends you to use them. There are good PowerPoint instructions, but you must be using Internet Explorer Browser to access them.
  1. Click this link. Training presentation: Word 2007—Bullets, numbers, and lists
  2. Click the Download button, save, and print if required.
  3. Follow the instructions and good luck. If you are writing small documents and not sharing them with others, this system will probably work for you.
If you do use styles...
...there are two main tricks to getting this right:
  1. If you are working in a document that has lots of complex lists, use the built-in Multilevel List styles and re-define them to suit.
  2. Associate those styles with a single gallery box from the Numbering Library accessed through the Ribbon.
Display multi-level lists
  1. Create a new document based on Normal template.
  2. Click Home tab, Styles group, dialog box launcher, to display the Styles pane and see all the styles displayed.
  3. Click Manage Styles to display the Manage Styles dialog box.
  4. Click the Recommend tab.
  5. Scroll down the list to near the bottom where you will find styles starting with the word List. They are likely to be greyed out and have the words (Hide Until Used) next to them.
  6. Highlight all these items and click Show .
  7. Click OK.
Re-define styles to suit
Work out what numbered lists you want and how deep you want them to go. For example, I often use a three level list for normal text, a three level list inside tables and a third three level list for special formatting, which makes 9 styles in all.
  1. Apply the pre-defined list style to some text.
  2. Re-format the text to look the way you want.
  3. Locate the style in the Styles pane.
  4. Right click and click Update *style name* to match selection. The style now possesses the formatting of your selected text which will be applied to all other text formatting with that style.
Do this for all the styles you want to create. To change style names:
  1. Right click on style in Style pane.
  2. Change the name.
  3. Click OK.
Associate styles with numbers
  1. Click Home tab, Paragraph group, Multi-level list button down arrow.
  2. Identify and click a number format from the Numbering Library that is closest to the required numbering style.
  3. If you exit the dialog box, click Home tab, Paragraph group, Multi-level list button down arrow again.
  4. Ensuring your selected box is still highlighted, click Define New Multi-Level list. You will work in this dialog box to define how every numbered list you have will work.
Style 1
  1. With level 1 selected, click the More button.
  2. In the Link level to style box, select your first style in a sequence, for example "table list 1".
  3. In the Enter formatting for number, enter the numbering type you want.
  4. In the Start at field, enter the start number, usually 1
  5. In the Aligned at field, enter the identical left margin defined in the style.
  6. In the Text indent at field, enter the identical indent defined in the style.
  7. In the Add tab stop field, enter the same indent tab defined in the style.
Style 2
  1. Click level 2.
  2. In the Link level to style box, select your second style in a sequence, for example "table list 2".
  3. In the Enter formatting for number, enter the numbering type you want.
  4. In the Start at field, enter the start number, usually 1
  5. In the Aligned at field, enter the identical left margin defined in the style.
  6. In the Text indent at field, enter the identical indent defined in the style.
  7. In the Add tab stop field, enter the same indent tab defined in the style.
Repeat this process with all your remaining styles - try to get every list style you will use defined in this one gallery box. It doesn't matter that they are not the same list sequence, just link your styles and define your number format, number style, number alignment, indent and tabs.
Place re-start numbering button on Quick Access Toolbar
  1. Right click in any blank area of the Ribbon.
  2. Click Customize Quick Access Toolbar.
  3. In the Choose Commands from field, click All Commands.
  4. Scroll down to Restart numbering and highlight.
  5. Click Add.
  6. Click OK.
This should work reliably for all your styles providing they are all defined in the one Gallery box in the Numbering Library.

40 comments:

  1. Christine Kent24/8/08

    These instructions are trial instructions. They are very difficult to write if you don't know the problem the user is currently facing. I would love feedback so that I can improve them.

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  2. Anonymous21/11/08

    Thanks! This worked great. I even amazed my skeptical friends when I created an independent numbered list inside of mult-level headings without getting either totally fouled up. - n

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  3. Anonymous14/2/09

    Thanks for clarifying some things about Word 2007 numbering for me. I'm using word with Author-It Content Management and have always used the levels to restart numbering. In 2003 i created paragraph styles and associated a level and then assigned the paragraph style to a level in a multi-level numbering scheme from the gallery. With 2007 I'm not sure i understand how/where to use the levels and I'm concerned about my ability to use a single style in the gallery to create two level ones, etc. Any experience you want to share would be great, Thanks.

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  4. Anonymous5/5/10

    I've been poring over this for an hour, and still can't make sense of it. Microsoft has really screwed up by making us all learn a very complex task all over again. Time to switch to a Mac.

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  5. Anonymous5/6/10

    Thank you so much! I could not renumber lists when they were in a table. Your tip on adding the re-start numbering button to the toolbar solved that problem. Excellent advice!

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    Replies
    1. I agree. That was the best tip ever!

      Delete
  6. Anonymous24/8/10

    Oh MY, Oh MY, Oh My. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa, & her name is Christine Kent. I still don't know all of the Bullet intricacies, BUT I am a heck of a lot closer than I have ever been.

    What got me on the Road To Glory, was your "Display multi-level lists" section.

    How do I change the Bullet styles (Dot, hyphen, asterisk,etc.) for different levels and Save them?

    Thank you,Thank YOU
    ~~Carol

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  7. Anonymous24/3/11

    Excellent instructions--thank you, Christine!

    --Kristen

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  8. Hans Woutersen10/6/11

    in Word 2003, If I create a multilevel I often find that the link level disappears. If I link level to style and close the link magically disappears. Often I have to repeat the sequence two or three times, in some documents the style never sticks. I create the numbering template from the styles menu, i don't use the numbering buttons on the toolbar of in the rightclick menu

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  9. I don't think you will find that a problem in 2007/10.

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  10. I think this is a better way to number equations in Word 2007 than using captions :)

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  11. Louise16/9/11

    Christine, I bought your MS Word 2003 to 2010 book. Thanks.

    I have two issues with multilevel lists. I've defined a numbered lists and as far as I can see, all my settings are to restart at 1(in the multi-level list style). But I cannot get the number to start subsequent lists at 1, it always continues.

    The second issue is that two enters at the end of the list keeps me in the top level bullet style but without a bullet (rather than returning me to body text, which is what I'd expect, and how it worked in 2003). Any tips gratefully received!!

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  12. Anonymous30/11/11

    While we are making a List Style in Word 2007 template and using with a set of Font Paragraph Styles. Is there any way to utilize the same List Style with another set of Font Paragraph Styles while using with one set of Paragraph Styles?Result should be the same List Style is showing numbering with two or more set of Font Paragraph Styles.

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  13. I know it might sound the dumbest question ever but in Word 2010 I am able to apply the lists however, where can I make the list to appear on the left of the Word so I can click on the heading and move straight to it. Many Thanks.

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  14. If I understand your question rightly, I don't think you can - are you asking if you can have your styles list display to the left? The best you can do is add a styles drop-down to the Quick Access Toolbar and make it appear towards the left.

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    Replies
    1. It almost sounds like Hadi is asking about a TOC or cross-reference (or STYLE-REF) where the displayed text (that you click on) can be the number, the text, the page number or a combination thereof.

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  15. Anonymous29/2/12

    I can't make heading numbering work even using these steps. I'm trying to create this:
    1.0 Heading 1 style
    1.1 Heading 2 style
    1.2 Heading 2 style
    1.2.1 Heading 2 style
    2.0 Heading 1 style

    When I use the multi level list feature it won't continue the numbering properly. I'm getting all kinds of wierdness including
    1.0
    1.1
    2.1
    2.0
    2.3

    It also won't let me modify the list style when its multilevel (only when its a list style (which isn't multilevel).

    Please help. I've been at this for two days and can't get it to work. Thanks.

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  16. Anonymous29/2/12

    Now I'm getting
    1.0
    1.1
    2.1
    2.0
    1.1
    2.1

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You must remove all numbering from the document and then re-apply. There are no shortcuts. Word still tries to outsmart you and give you multiple lists.

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  17. You have to go through the numbering now, and change it all to some other style, then re-apply your numbering style from the start of the document. Word gets too clever and tries to predict when you have more than one list. Never change a style from within a document - always from the first instance.

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  18. Anonymous16/3/12

    For Word 2007/2010 multi-level list, when should I select "Define New MultiLevel List" vs. "Define New List Style"

    Is the latter choice best to use when you need to share your list with other documents? Is one choice more "stable" than the other? Most common issue I run into is the multi-List levels getting randomly unlinked from the Heading styles I originally associated with them.

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  19. Thank you for these instructions. I'm working with a multi-level list (1.1.1 format) but the text below (i.e. relating to each heading) has to be justified. What I've been doing is entering a soft return after the heading, to avoid generating the next number for that level, but if the heading is more than one word, it becomes justified and looks absurd. As I had a deadline, and couldn't find help online before my deadline for submission, I fudged it and entered Xs to the end of the heading line, and then formatted the font for these Xs as white. I really would like to get the styles correct for my next report and so I am hoping you have covered this somewhere in your materials and that you will be able to direct me to the topic, or suggest what keywords I might use to find help elsewhere. Thank you!

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    Replies
    1. SFBXB31/7/12

      I've come across that same problem and don't stay away from full justification whenever possible. In any event, if you use non-breaking spaces (Ctrl+Shift+Space) you can "override" the full justification.

      I author many contracts and use the centered two-line format for Heading 1. I wish Word would include a New Line Character as an option to follow an outline number.

      Delete
  20. I'm not sure I have understood your problem. Is it something that can be solved using the list indent styles. In other words, hard return at the end of the line and format the next line with the correct list indent styles. Your numbering can still be continuous even when you use intervening styles. Have I oversimplified?

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  21. Hi Christine. Thank you for coming back on this. I'm sorry that I lost the link to your page after my laptop crashed, and now that I'm back in the system, I've found my original request. My thoughts are now turning to my next report due in August, so technically I have time to experiment. I don't know if I can explain the problem more clearly.

    The reports I have to generate have to use a multi-level numbering system so each of the headings in the report is preceded by a number that's somewhere in the 1.1.1 hierarchy/family. However, the text in the reports has to be justified but if the heading is justified, particularly if it's short, then it looks ridiculous.

    If I do a hard return after I've typed the heading for say 2.1 then the next line is another heading 2.2 when I need to write my argument for 2.1. So I've been doing a soft return to get past that and then I have to do this trick to 'unjustify' the numbered heading but typing characters to fill in to the end of the line, and then camouflaging those bizarre extra characters by formatting them as white text, so they don't show on my hard copy.

    Do I need to do something in the Style Pane? Or is it the Paragraph Formatting that I've got to activate? I don't think I had this problem with Word 2003.

    Is it possible to have a left-aligned heading, but with the text relating to that heading justified?

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  22. Thanks for your reply. I think I posted a reply to your question, but when I managed to find my way back here, I see it hasn't reached you. Perhaps I made a mistake with reading the anti-spam code, or something similar.

    Basically my problem is that I am having to write reports using a multi-level list for the headings and with the text justified.(I'm working with a multi-level list in Word 2007. (It's one that goes 1 > 1.1 > 1.1.1) I need the heading for each level to be left aligned (i.e.unjustified) but the body of text below each heading to be justified.

    Your comment suggests that it may be possible to format the body text as a different style? Is that explained in the PowerPoints you mentioned? I've been looking everywhere and all the video clips are for the most basic possible lists e.g. 1.1 > 1.2 > 2.1 and everything left aligned.
    I'm was more familiar with Word 2003 (once) and I seem to remember that you can shift from style to style on a drop-down menu. I haven't spotted that in Word 2007.

    I appreciate your help.

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  23. I posted a reply to this twice, but it's not shown up.

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  24. Anonymous7/9/12

    I have a problem with a multi-level list, level 1 and 2 work fine but when I try to use level 3, and the indent is supposed to be at 1", it actually starts the text at 0.8" and indents 0.5. The ruler and the multi-level list shows it starting at 1" but it is not at 1".

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  25. Anonymous28/9/12

    Trying to insert an automated line break in a heading (Shift + Enter) in MS Word 2010, I get a strange symbol that is printable and the line break doesn't seem to work.. Is there an alternative to make a two line numbered heading or a trick to overcome this problem? Thanks in advance

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  26. i have created multilevel numbering. but i was wrong so i want to delete it from list ?

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    Replies
    1. If you find out how to do it, please let me know.

      Delete
    2. Dear Christine

      Custom list styles can be deleted in the Organizer.

      Best regards, Johannes

      Delete
  27. I'd like to make an outline list (of requirements) where each requirement number includes the preceding Heading 1 and Heading 2 number. Requirement numbers restart in each new Heading 2.

    I'd prefer to not use lower Heading levels for the requirements (even though I know how have them not display in the TOC) because using Heading levels for the requirements affects the "normal" single level lists by somehow making them show as Heading 1s.

    Any ideas? (BTW, this is for Word 2003 but needs to work in Word 2007 and later.)

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  28. Joanne23/1/13

    Oh my goodness, thank you so much for this. Your "Associating Styles with Numbers" has allowed me to recover my sanity!

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  29. Anonymous3/8/13

    Wonderful, Wonderful, Oh Joy, Oh Happiness! I've been struggling with multi level lists since the early 2000s but now, in just a couple of minutes, all my problems have been solved. (Well, not quite all - I'm still 63, with totally inadequate pension provision and an insecure career - but at least I can do multi level numbered lists again. Thanks so Much, Phil (currently in Liberia)

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  30. Anonymous13/8/13

    Worked 1st time for me!

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  31. Dear Christine
    You said that you would like to know how to delete a list style. I just found out how to do this (even a blind hen ...). Here goes.
    1. Open the Multilevel List drop-down,
    2. Select the list you want to delete in the List Styles
    3. Right-click and select Modify and find the Name of the list
    4. Open the Organizer
    5. Find the name in the left list
    6. Click the delete button on the organiser
    7. Open the Multilevel List drop-down again
    8 click the list
    9. Clise the drop-down
    10. Open the drop-down again and the list isd gone!

    Best regards Johannes

    ReplyDelete
  32. Dear Christine
    You said that you would like to know how to delete a list style. I just found out how to do this (even a blind hen ...). Here goes.
    1. Open the Multilevel List drop-down,
    2. Select the list you want to delete in the List Styles
    3. Right-click and select Modify and find the Name of the list
    4. Open the Organizer
    5. Find the name in the left list
    6. Click the delete button on the organiser
    7. Open the Multilevel List drop-down again
    8 click the list
    9. Clise the drop-down
    10. Open the drop-down again and the list is gone!

    Best regards Johannes

    ReplyDelete
  33. Anonymous15/11/13

    I have an existing document with some automated numbering that works and other parts that don't. So I tried creating the multilevel list for levels 1 - 4. I want it to number 1., 1.1, 1.1.1, 1.1.1.1, 1.1.1.2, and so on and then to start over on 2, 3, and 4.

    So the level 1 heading and the level 1 section all worked just fine, but Level 4 stopped working, but only in some cases, for example, my fourth level heading gives me the same number over and over again. Every fourth level heading is 1.1.1.1, even when it should be 3.4.4.1 or whatever.

    What am I doing wrong?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you see the correct numbers some but not all of the time, you have set your styles up correctly. Word tries to get far too clever and guess that you have several different lists that need different numbering. The only way to stop this is to make it clear that there IS only one list. You should be able to fix the problem by removing ALL numbering from the document and re-applying from the start - tedious but less tedious than fighting with Word.

      Delete