This week’s Tech Tip Tuesday discusses using numbered lists instead of manually typing 1., pressing enter, 2., and so on.  Many folks have trouble with the way Word automatically changes numbers.  This tip should help you take advantage of Word’s auto-numbering feature.

If you have already disabled Word’s auto-numbering features, the tips in this article may not apply.  You can re-enable the auto-numbering by clicking File (or Office Button) | Options | Proofing | Auto Correct Options | AutoFormat As You Type | and making sure “Automatic Numbered Lists” is checked.


Type the number 1, followed by a period and a space.  If you have automatic numbering turned on (which is the default), Word will start a numbered list.  If you type some text and press enter, Word will add the number 2.  As long as there is some text after the number, Word keeps adding numbers to the list.

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By default, the formatting is probably not what you want.  Formatting numbering is probably the most frustrating part for most Word users, but it is really simple to adjust to your liking.

Adjusting Formatting

To adjust the formatted numbers, first click on the number.  Note how Word makes the numbers in the list gray to show that you are working with a field.

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To adjust the formatting, right click on the number and choose “Adjust List Indents.”

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Note the formatting options available.  I generally use a 0.5 Number Position and a 0.0 text indent.  Press OK.  I also generally double space the list.

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Ending the Numbered List

At the end of the list, simply press enter twice to end the list and back into your document text.

If you need to add additional numbers to the list, just go to end of the last numbered line and press enter.  The next number in the list will be added and shift any text below the list down.

What to do if you don’t want an automatically numbered list

Sometimes, you just don’t want Word to automatically create a numbered list.  Start typing the list, e.g. “1.” and wait for Word to make an automatic list.  Instead of pressing enter, press CTRL Z.  Word will undo the automatically added numbering and you can type your own list.  Also, you can disable the auto-format feature by unchecking the “Automatic Numbered Lists” as described above.

How do you take advantage of automatically numbered lists in Word?



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