Word 2007: Taming multilevel list numbering

June 22, 2010

I think I’ve finally figured out how to get proper multilevel numbering happening in Word 2007!

A client called me in desperation — they had an employment contract with multilevel numbering, but somewhere along the way the numbering got screwed. Instead of 12 followed by 12.1, 12.2, 12.3 etc. they had 12 followed by 14.1, 14.2, 14.3 etc. I tried every trick I knew to get those second level numbers to reset, but I couldn’t figure it out. I sent an email to my client letting him know that Word had probably beaten me on this one, and asking him if he wanted me to persevere for a little while longer. He gave his OK, so back to Word I went, determined to master this multilevel list numbering. Ultimately, I had to set up new styles for him and reapply them to the document, but I finally got it working after about an hour or so.

Hopefully these instructions will help someone else (as well as remind me how to do it again next time I’m asked to troubleshoot multilevel lists!). (Printable PDF of these instructions)

The example I work through below creates a multilevel numbered list that looks something like this (ignore the formatting — you can sort that out later):

Warning! This is a long series of steps as I’m going to take you through setting up three list levels. Please take your time and work through the instructions one step at a time — this is not something you can do while you’re focused on something else, so turn off Twitter, email notifications etc.

Step 1: Set up a new multilevel list style

Tip: When you define a new Multilevel List style, define ALL levels in it at once. Don’t set up a new list style for each level – it won’t work.

  1. Open a new Word 2007 document.
  2. On the Home tab, go to the Paragraph group.
  3. Click the small drop-down arrow next to the Multilevel List icon.
  4. Click Define New List Style.
  5. On the Define New List Style window, give the style for the entire list a name (in this example I’ve called it Numbered List).
  6. By default, you’re working on the 1st level. Set the font, font size and font weight for the 1st level numbers. NOTE: These font settings are for the numbers ONLY, not for the paragraph style. So if you want bold numbers, set that here. Ignore everything else on this window for now.
  7. Click Format at the bottom left of this window, then click Numbering to open the Modify Multilevel List window.
  8. Click the More button at the bottom left of the Modify Multilevel List window to display all available options.
  9. Level 1  (top left) is already set, and I’m happy with the Number style… of 1, 2, 3, but I want a period after my top level number, so I need to delete the ) after 1 in the Enter formatting… field and type in a period (don’t touch the gray shaded 1).
  10. Assign a style to this level — in this example, I’ve assigned the standard Word style of List Number in the Link level to style field. I’ll modify this style using the Styles pane later.
  11. Click OK to return to the Define New List Style window. DO NOT close this window — you now need to set up the 2nd and 3rd levels for your list.
  12. Select 2nd level from the Apply formatting to drop-down list.
  13. Set the font, font size and font weight for the 2nd level numbers.
  14. Click Format at the bottom left of this window, then click Numbering to open the Modify Multilevel List window.
  15. Select 2 in the Click level to modify list.
  16. The default Number style for this level is a, b, c. Using the drop-down list, change this to 1, 2, 3.
  17. Remove the ) from after 1 in the Enter formatting… field.
  18. Place your cursor in FRONT of the grayed 1 in the Enter formatting… field.
  19. Select Level 1 from the Include level number from drop-down list. You now have two grayed 1‘s. PLEASE NOTE: This ‘Level 1′ selection you just made does NOT display in the field. You know you’ve got it right if another grayed 1 is added to the Enter formatting… field.
  20. Type a period between the two grayed 1‘s in the Enter formatting… field.
  21. Select the List Number 2 style from the drop-down list in the Link level to style field.
  22. Click OK to return to the Define New List Style window. Do not close it. You’re nearly finished… you just have to set up the 3rd list level.
  23. Select 3rd level from the Apply formatting to drop-down list.
  24. Set the font, font size and font weight for the 3rd level numbers.
  25. Click Format at the bottom left of this window, then click Numbering to open the Modify Multilevel List window.
  26. Select 3 in the Click level to modify list.
  27. The default Number style for this level is i, ii, ii. Using the drop-down list, change this to 1, 2, 3.
  28. Remove the ) from after after 1 in the Enter formatting… field.
  29. Place your cursor in FRONT of the grayed 1 in the Enter formatting… field.
  30. Select Level 1 from the Include level number from drop-down list. You now have two grayed 1‘s in the Enter formatting… field.
  31. Select Level 2 from the Include level number from drop-down list. You now have three grayed 1‘s in the Enter formatting… field. The first is the Level 1 number, the second is the Level 2 number, and the third is the Level 3 number — unfortunately, as all are 1, it’s hard to see which is which!
  32. Type a period between each of the grayed 1‘s (i.e. your numbers should look like this: 1.1.1)
  33. Select the List Number 3 style from the drop-down list in the Link level to style field.
  34. Click OK to return to the previous window where you should see your three levels listed, with the numbering styles you set up.
  35. Click OK again to close the window and return to the document, where a first level numbered item is added to your document.

Phew! You’ve finished the first (and most difficult) part of setting up your multilevel lists.

Step 2: Test your new multilevel list

  1. Open the Styles pane (click at the bottom right of the Styles group on the Home tab).
  2. Click the Manage Stylesbutton.

    Manage Styles button

  3. Go to the Recommend tab.
  4. Scroll down and select List Number, List Number 2 and List Number 3 from the list.
  5. Click Show, then click OK. The List Number, List Number 2 and List Number 3 styles should show in your Styles pane.
  6. Enter several paragraphs of text.
  7. Apply List Number, List Number 2 and List Number 3 styles to various paragraphs.

Bonus hint: Assign a different level to an existing numbered paragraph

There are several methods for assigning a different level to an existing numbered list — I’ll just describe two:

  • Method 1: Use the Styles pane and reassign the relevant List Number style to the paragraph. If the text used the List Number 3 style and you apply the List Number 2 style, then the numbering will update accordingly.
  • Method 2: Right-click anywhere in the list item, select Change List Level, then select the new level you want to apply to this item.

Changing the styles

  • Changing the formatting for the numbered paragraphs: You may want to change the settings of the List Number, List Number 2 and List Number 3 styles — for example, their indents, above/below paragraph spacing, tab positions etc. You do this the normal way, using the Styles pane and modifying each style.
  • Changing the master list style: To change any aspect of the Numbered List style (the master style with the three levels that you set up earlier): Click the Manage Styles button on the Styles pane, go to the Edit tab, select the Numbered List style, then click Modify.
  • Changing the numbering format for a single multilevel list style: Put your cursor into a multilevel list numbered paragraph, click the small drop-down arrow next to the Multilevel List icon (Home tab > Paragraph group), select Define New Multilevel List, then change the Number style for this level setting.

I have no doubt there are many more fancy things you can do with multilevel list numbering (after all, there are a slew of settings on the Define New Multilevel List Style window I didn’t even touch), but sometimes you just want a simple, multilevel numbered list! Hopefully, these instructions have given you just that.

See also:

[Links last checked January 2012]


  1. Thanks Rhonda – that one is DEFINTELY worth a coffee!!

  2. [...] Taming multilevel list numbering (for lists, not headings): http://cybertext.wordpress.com/2010/06/22/word-2007-taming-multilevel-list-numbering/ [...]

  3. Thank you very much for this post. I was looking for exactly this level of information.

    I did find an interesting point. If “Heading 1″ is used instead of “List Number 1″, and the caption numbering is enabled to use the Chapter number with period separator, tables and figures can be identified by section and order (e.g. Figure 1.2 followed by Figure 1.3). This helps with the numbered list concept and allows a more informative ToT and ToF.

    Thanks again!

  4. I’ve mentioned adding chapter numbering to figures and tables before here: http://cybertext.wordpress.com/2008/04/27/word-2003-automated-tables-of-figures

    You need to be using outline numbering for your headings for this to work. Multilevel numbering for numbered lists shouldn’t make any difference to the caption numbering, I’d have thought.

  5. THANK YOU!!!!

    After spending over an hour trying to get the numbering scheme to work for different styles I turned to google and typed “how to use third level numbering word 2007″ which I really didn’t believe would yield anything helpful.

    How wrong I was! I am writing my masters thesis and want to thank you for making this portion of it so much easier!

  6. Thank you SO much for this. My team requires using multi-level lists all the time, and yours is the best explanation out there! You have cured a very big headache for me – THANK YOU!!!!!

  7. I have spent so many frustrated hours trying to figure this out and your instructions have been a total god send – can’t thank you enough for saving my sanity.

  8. I have followed these instructions closely, and they work! Thank you. I redefined the List number and list number 2 etc styles so that they all sit against the left margin.
    However, (there is always a sting), when one tries to change the starting number from a number other than one, eg 2, the default styles from word 2007 over ride the changes to the List Number style! I suspect a word 2007 feature (bug)!

  9. Thank you *so much* for taking time to share this! One question: Have you ever tried to link _two_ styles to the same level in the custom list style? In my heading list style I need level 2 to be linked both to “Heading 2″ and a custom style, let’s say “Heading 2 para”. I want them to have the same numbering formet (1.1), and they need to continue each other’s numbering, like this:
    1.1 Heading 2
    1.2 Heading 2 para
    1.3 Heading 2 para
    1.4 Heading 2

  10. THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. Hi,

    I have a question and I was wondering if you can help me. I have created a list which looks like this :
    Chapter 1 Heading1
    1.1 Heading2
    1.2 Heading2
    Chapter 2 Heading1
    2.1 Heading2
    2.1.1 Heading3
    2.2 Heading2
    In my document I want to reference to chapter 1 in a sentence and I get “Chapter 1″ instead of just 1. Is there anyway I can have the above configuration and get “1″ as a reference.

    Thnx in advance!

  12. If your outline numbering includes the word ‘Chapter’ in the numbering sequence automatically, then I can’t see a way of doing this. I tested it with a sequence of numbering I had for some appendices, where ‘Appendix’ (just like ‘Chapter’) was part of the numbering. I tried using the Numbered Heading options and also tried a bookmark, but none of those gave me just the number without the word ‘Appendix’. I don’t think is possible, except perhaps with a macro.

  13. Thank you sooo much, I spent almost an entire day trying to fix it yesterday and it looks horrendous when not tidy.
    Amazing job!


  14. Nice and easy. I feel disappointed about Word not having built-in support for multilevel headings with different styles and numbering dependent on parent node. Thanks for sharing the experience.

  15. The thing seems to rely on using built-in “List Number X” styles. Could not get it to work without.

  16. I’ve used it successfully with Heading styles. I don’t think it matters whether it’s a built-in style or one you’ve set up prior to assigning the numbering to it.


  17. Okay.. I have followed these instructions and they are wonderful. But I am having one frustrating and annoying problem.

    I am linking the numbered list to the headings, or at least trying to. I link the first level to heading 1 and it works. I link the third and fourth levels to the respective styles. Groovy!

    But no matter what I do, Word 2010 will NOT remember or maintain the link from list level 2 to heading 2. Does anyone have any idea why?


  18. Thanks – most helpful

  19. Hooray! Thank god! Seriously, how on earth did MS Word do this horrible monster that is Word 2007 and retain market share? Why didn’t some software company swoop in with a product that is a near-exact clone of Word 2003??????

    I wasted at least a whole morning on one stupid list!

  20. One more question – I have been merging additional headings (the style) into higher levels of a multilevel list by creating a new list from the beginning, as you recommend here (i got the doc with only heading 2 and level one in the multilist). For some reason, when headings (‘heading 4′), etc. are merging into the list they are creating a double set of heading numbers – an incorrect one with a strikethrough and a correct set. and all the numbers are in a gray font that is not what I chose. Any idea why? It looks like a track-changes like function

  21. That’s an easy one, I think!

    Strikethroughs are Track Changes, which were turned on when you updated the fields. You can either turn off track changes and accept all changes, or you can run the macro here to accept all field updates: (http://cybertext.wordpress.com/2009/10/16/word-macro-to-fix-track-changescross-references-issues/).

    As far as the gray ‘font’ is concerned, that’s likely the field shading showing you that these things are a field, not plain text. I always keep field shading turned on so I can see what’s a field and what’s not. If you want to turn it off, follow the steps listed in this blog post, but turn them off instead of on: http://cybertext.wordpress.com/2010/04/19/word-show-those-fields/

  22. HELP!


    My problem is the ’01′ doesn’t update itself when it is a sub point of 1.02 or 1.03 etc. Eg,

    1.01 Blah blah
    1.01.1 more blah
    1.02 Blah blah
    1.02.1 more blah

    Instead it is doing this;
    1.01 Blah blah
    1.01.1 more blah
    1.02 Blah blah
    1.01.1 more blah ….(01 should be 02)

    Any suggestions?

    Gratefully yours,


  23. Hi Paula

    The only thing can suggest at the moment is for you to update all fields in the document (Ctrl+A, then F9).


  24. Thnaks for the useful and easy information, but now I have an additional problem.

    I already create a wonderful document with 6 multilevel own styles. However I would like to creat a table of content with all this multilevels that I already create, but I only could create a table of contenc based on the “heading” style that has not numbering like 1, 1.2 etc…
    Could you help me on this one please.

    Thank You

  25. Go to this blog post: http://cybertext.wordpress.com/2010/07/23/word-2007-create-an-automatic-table-of-contents/, then go to near the end under the heading ‘Add or remove a level from the TOC’ — you should be able to delete the existing TOC levels from that list and add your own for your numbered lists.


  26. This looks interesting. What I’ve had to do in the past was just get rid of all auto correct and other features and use Word 07 like a typewriter. I’d just tab to where I wanted and type in the outline manually. I was very irritated at this low tech solution, but I couldn’t figure out any other way that worked. Microsoft makes billions of dollars a year in profit. They should fix Microsoft Word!

  27. I appreciate this tutorial, but can you please test this scenario and see if I am doing something incorrectly: I define a new List Style called “Custom1″ for “New docs based on this template” instead of “This doc only.” The Heading 1, 2, 3, etc. appear to be linked within that document. Then from another document I create another List Style called “Custom2″ and choose to make it available to “New docs based on this template” and link them to Heading styles. Even though both List Styles show available to new docs, only one of the List Styles (the last one used) is linked to Heading styles. In the List Library, multiple multi-level lists are automatically linked to Heading styles. Does this not work with custom List Styles?

  28. How to change list style during writing those lists? For example i want simultaneously change all words of 1st level to bold.

  29. … and be sure that in future all not written yet words of 1st level wiull be bold too?

  30. Hi Sergey

    If I’m reading your question correctly, you should set the style you associated with Level 1 (e.g. List Number 1) to bold. You do this via the Styles pane, not the numbering pane.


  31. as always, Rhonda to the rescue! (again, google search for info).

  32. Hey Sarah

    You should just subscribe to the blog posts — there’s link to do so below the Comment box ;-)


  33. Thank you so much for this easy-to-follow solution – worked like a charm!!!

  34. Hi Rhonda
    This was a great article, but I think it was a little over complicated. When you move from the Define New List Style dialog to the Modify Multilevel list dialog, you should be able to set all the numbering levels in that screen without going back and forth to the Define New List style dialog to select the next level. If you need to change the number style font for any level, you can do that from the Modify Multilevel box too.

  35. I need to know how to set up the numbers (a), (b), (c), (d): the following way: Could you tell me how to set it up:

    (a) The name of the game; (c) The 2nd name of the game;
    (b) The 3rd name of the game; (d) The 4th name of the game.

    I am trying to set it up for a test in my classroom. Please any help would be greatly appreciated.

  36. Hi Sandy

    If your question has come out as intended (WordPress plays with the formatting!), then my understanding is that you want to number down in the first column, then switch to the second column and number down in that one, continuing on from the number at the end of the first column?

    As far as I know, this can’t be done automatically — or at least, not quickly and easily. I just tested it on a two row/two column table. Using the auto numbering icon, I selected column 1 and Word numbered it 1, 2 down the rows. I then selected column 2 and applied auto numbering to it and it also numbered 1, 2 down the rows. I selected column 2 again and said to apply continuous numbering and then got 1, 3 down the first column and 2, 4 down the second column.

    I think the only way you can achieve this quickly is to do it manually in a borderless table. If you don’t have many numbering sequences like this, it shouldn’t take much time. If you do, create the first table, then copy/paste it to other parts of the document.


  37. I want Level 1 to be ARTICLE I centered with no text following. But I can’t figure out how to get an automatic hard return following the words ARTICLE I. It should look like this:


    1.1 Indemnification. Now is the time, . . . .

    As an alternate, I have text following ARTICLE I, but it is always centered below ARTICLE I like this:


    1.1 Indemnification. Now is the time.

  38. Hi Linda

    You might want this article instead: http://cybertext.wordpress.com/2010/09/22/word-2007-create-a-numbered-appendix-heading-style/


  39. Is there a way by which the numbering level can inherit the style of the paragraph? I have linked Level 1 to Heading 1, Level 2 to Heading 2, and so on, but I’d wish the numbers would inherit the style from the linked Heading, rather than having to manually define the style for each numbering level to match that of the Heading.
    Is there a way to do so?

  40. Hi Hector

    Not as far as I know. I *think* when you first create the outline numbering levels, the font and its size match those of the heading styles, but if you later change the heading style formatting that doesn’t carry back to the formatting for the numbers. I know this happened to some old styles I had in a template — I had to go back into the numbered list dialog box and change the formatting there.


  41. This article is very good matter of fact saved my skin.

    Thanks for a detailed step by step on how to create multi level list.


  42. Thanks a lot!! you’re a life saver!

  43. It looks like your post is the gift that keeps on giving!

    I couldn’t figure out how to remove the tab after automatic numbers. I would never have thought to look in multi-level lists. It really should be in formatting numbered lists. But the main point is: I found my solution in your post! Thanks for helping.

  44. Don’t you think formatting in 2003 is much more easy than in 2007?

  45. Not now. Like most, I had trouble with Word 2007 when I first started using it — now I find it hard to use 2003! I still use the Styles pane as in Word 2003 and never use the big Style icons on the Home tab.

    I can also get the multilevel numbering to work pretty much every time these days too — I never could in Word 2003.


  46. Hi! Thanks so much for your instructions. I was wondering what is the difference between Multilevel lists and Lists are, as I saw that you can choose from either ‘Define new Multilevel List’ or ‘Define new List Style’. What’s the difference between them?

  47. Good question, Gwen. I don’t know the answer to that — and haven’t figured it out yet! Have you tried the Microsoft Help, forums, or just a Google search?


  48. Thank you very much for the detailed steps – One question which is now freaking me out – I have created my numbered lists i.e. ListNumbered, ListNumbered 1 and ListNumbered 2 – 3 levels. However when I type up a document and use the style ListNumbered I get “1″, then ListNumbered 2 gives me “1.1″, however, if I then try and add another sub paragraph i.e. 1.2, I instead get 2.1 and then 2.3, instead of 1.2 and 1.3 – how can I change this? what have I done wrong?

  49. Um…. yeah, this is how to set up a List Style and apply it to a set of linked styles…

    Please help me understand why you didn’t use WORD’s default Heading Styles and the existing List style (screenshot in your Step # 4, middle row, right hand side) that is already set up 99% like you wanted? Was your objective to add a secondary numbering scheme in addition to that assigned to the heading styles already in use in the document?

    Sorry – as a MS Word trainer I found you approach to be very confusing.

  50. Thanks for your tutorial.
    This is a technical subject and you have treated it in a step by step manner so that it is easy to follow you. Several writers assume that the reader is verse with everything in Word 2007 and they leave our key details, e.g. click button X when the reader does not even know where button X is.
    I am usually pretty good at reading and interpreting manuals but most of the presentations on multilevel lists were causing me difficulty. Terms need to be defined before they are discussed.

  51. I love you. I couldn’t figure out how to modify an existing multilevel list style, but figured out thanks to this tutorial. Now to figure out how to DELETE an unwanted multi-level list style form the “list styles” gallery.

  52. Glad I could help!

    For removing styles, see this blog post of mine: https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2010/01/28/word-remove-unwanted-styles-quickly/


  53. Rhonda, I want to share how I used your technique to solve a list restart numbering at 1 issue. I was getting boogered up numbered lists when I forced them to restart at 1. Instead I use your mulitlevel list approach but I set the Level 1 numbering to (none) so no numbers are displayed. I use a style that uses Level 2 numbering which I set to start at 1 after each Level 1 heading. I use this for my standard operating procedures (SOP) where procedure steps follow a heading.

  54. Interesting approach, Edward. I’ll have to give that a try.


  55. Thanks for the instructions. Rhonda. But I’m still getting level 2 numbering under subsequent level 1 headings following on where it left off under 1, i.e. 1.2, 1.3 instead of 2.1, 2.2, 3.1 etc. What am I doing wrong?

  56. Hi Kari

    Can you check that your dialog box looks like the one after Step 21 above? There’s a ‘Restart list after’ check box that is meant to set automatically. Check that it’s checked and that ‘Level 1′ is selected.

    Without seeing the document, that’s all I can think of right now.

  57. Ah – I hadn’t spotted that. I will double check that on the next document I have to reformat with proper multilevel numbering next week. Many thanks, Rhonda!

  58. Just wanted to say thanks. I have to work on complex documents with multiple multi level lists and this allowed me to create a template that works in every way except it does not automatically restart the numbering. I thought there would be a way to do this based on the heading, but is this something I would have to write a macro for?

    Thanks again. ( I can’t thank you enough for this.)

  59. Hi Lindsey

    Check Kari’s issue in the comments above (13 December 2011) and my response (14 December 2011) and see if that works for you.


  60. Thank you! This was great info. I have set up my multi-level list and it works, but I want to restart the numbering at level 3. Currently, the list looks like this:

    I do not want the 5.2 level to continue from the previous list and have level 3 be 5.2.3 and 5.2.4; I want level 3 to start over and be 5.2.1 and 5.2.2. How do I do this?

  61. Hi CM

    Check the comments immediately above yours. You may need to set the restart number to 1 for the 3rd level number.


  62. Hi Rhonda — I did that, but the styles seem to get messed up whenever I make a solo change like that. They do odd things, like suddenly the paragraph indents are off or the fonts change or something. Is that just one of Word’s many, ahem, quirks?

  63. You may have to re-set all the numbering levels again, taking note of that setting for each level.

    Or it could be a Word quirk…


  64. Thanks Rhonda, I had been literally banging my head against brick walls for hours trying to understand the complexities of multi-level lists. Thanks to your simple clear instructions, which I obviously messed up on the first attempt, it now have a better idea of how numbering styles and multilevel lists all hang together..

    many thanks

  65. So – I decided today to tackle the issue of multilevel lists as we use them at work for all our controlled documents. These instructions are fantastic and I am hoping it’ll allow me to “fix” many of our older documents that have been edited over and over throughout the years and are rather broken.

    However, I have run into one snag. Things were zooming along nicely on a new document and I was adding information for several lines under my List Number 3, but, when I got to a new page, suddenly Word seems to be ignoring the tab settings. It has justified my 5.1.6 completely to the left of the page, yet is saying the margins are correct and I can’t move the line at all. What gives???

  66. Hi Laura

    I’ve never seen that happen, so I can only make a couple of suggestions to fix it:

    * Reapply the style to that paragraph
    * Use the little ‘flags’ on the ruler to move the indent position (see this post of doing it in PowerPoint — it’s the same in Word, except you do ‘View > Ruler’ first: http://cybertext.wordpress.com/2008/10/07/powerpoint-change-bullet-indent-for-all-slides/)


  67. Hi Rhonda
    I have just followed your instructions above for editing an existing document and have found it very helpful.
    I do have one issue though and wonder whether its the document I’m using or the version of Word – I don’t have a default style called List Number. I’m using Word 2010.
    Do you suggest a different style to use?
    Currently I’ve left that blank in my numbered list style setup and the three levels show as the following styles – 1.0 Section Title, 1.1 Section Title 2 and List Paragraph.
    Any suggestions would be appreciated.

  68. Hi Megan

    ‘List Number’, List Number 2, 3, 4 etc. are default Word styles that are in Word 2010 and earlier. You CAN’T delete them — you can only hide them.

    I don’t think that hiding them prevents them from being selected in these steps…. I just checked and it doesn’t stop them from being selected.

    However, these styles may be listed towards the bottom of the list of styles, as their default assigned value is ‘Last’, so keep scrolling through the list of styles at Step 1 (item 10).

    You can also confirm that you have these styles by opening the Styles pane, then clicking the Manage Styles icon at the bottom of it. Then go to the Edit tab and change the sort to ‘Alphabetical’. You should now see the ‘List Number’ styles under ‘L’.


  69. Thanks Rhonda,
    It must have been too late in the day yesterday – I can see them now!
    I have found that I can’t always get the numbering to sequence correctly when applying formatting to the already existing text so I’ve reverted to using the “Set Numbering Value” edit and using Continue from previous list – Advance value (skip numbers) to set the 1.1 or 2.1 numbering etc.
    Seems to be working that way for now but I’m hoping I’m not causing problems for myself down the track!

  70. Rhonda, you rock girlfriend! I have been stumped by this multilevel things for months, fix a tab and next thing I know word is flying 3 inches to the right when I do increase indent button and i could never figure out why.

    I read your beautiful step by step instructions and all is well.

    Thanks so much!

  71. I set up multi-level using the List style and individual List 1, List 2 and so on. I want List 1 to restart after Heading 2, however the “Restart list after:” checkbox is greyed out in the Modify Multilevel list dialog box at Level 1.

    I have set up this list using default List styles as well as new styles (which is what other online-sources recommend).

    None of them allow me to restart the first level. I have seen Edward Cal December 9, 2011 at 11:23 pm’s suggestion and want to try it, but … but …

    Ideas? Thanks for providing the continued support for this clearly challenging issue.

  72. I am trying to generate auto figure & table caption numbers like the following:
    Figure 1.1-1
    Figure 1.1-2
    Figure 1.1-3
    Figure 1.1.1-1
    Figure 1.1.1-2
    Figure 1.3.1-1
    Figure 2-1
    Figure 2.3.1-1
    Figure 4.5.-1

    Is this possible with Word, or is this another function that Word doesn’t quite know how to do?

  73. Hi John

    I’m pretty sure that Word won’t do what you’ve described. You can set the number of chapter levels displayed but that’s an all or nothing situation. See this post: http://cybertext.wordpress.com/2008/04/27/word-2003-automated-tables-of-figures/ and go to the comment from Patti dated 31 January 2012 and my reply immediately after it.

    Also, consider whether what you’re asking for will confuse the reader. See this blog post: http://cybertext.wordpress.com/2009/04/28/table-and-figure-numbering/ and this related article: http://www.techknowledgecorp.com/nonum.html


  74. Great tutorial, but I am stumped on one thing and hope you can help. I am editing a document which was created with a manual 1, 1.1, 1.1.1, etc. numbering scheme (not using Word’s List/Numbering feature). I am now trying to apply a multi-level list to the document so the numbering will be automatic. I have created a custom style and applied the style to Section 1, the subsections of Section 1 (1.1 – 1.9) and Section 2. However, I discovered even though all the above Sections are now using the same style (and should be part of the same list), Section 1 is not linked to the rest of the numbered Sections. Section 2 is linked to the subsections of Section 1, but not Section 1 itself. So, if I delete Section 1, it does change the numbering of Section 2 to become the new Section 1. I have tried to apply the style to Section 1 a million different ways and I’ve even tried deleting it altogether and cutting-and-pasting Section 2 in the hopes it would carry the list style over, but it is not working. Do you have any idea why this one Section will not link to the rest of the numbered sections even though I am using only one style? Is there any other way to simply link this section to the same list as the other sections? If there is anything you can suggest I would appreciate it. Thanks so much!

  75. Hi Lisa

    Go back to the screen shot at Step 21 and make sure that your ‘Start at’ and ‘Restart after’ fields are set correctly.

    Other than that, I have no clue without seeing the document.

    You might like to ask this on the Microsoft Answers forum for Word — someone there may have a solution.


  76. Thanks Rhonda,
    The format is a government required format. Word reads/looks like it should be able to do it, but when I set the level on a later figure, Word scrambles all previous captions that weren’t the same level. Needless to say this makes getting the Table of Figure correct difficult.
    Thanks again,

  77. Thank you. I have applied as suggested and it worked fine, until I got to chapter 6. The numbering is supposed to be:
    6.1 helo
    6.2 helo
    But instead I get:
    1.1 helo
    1.2 helo
    Even if I try and number in chapter 3, which had previusly worked fine, I get the 1.1 sequence.

    What went wrong?


  78. Thank you. Your instructions very clear and easy to follow. It helped me to save a lot of time while formatting a report.

  79. Hello Rhonda, thank you for this great post.
    I have managed to make the levels but now that I want to set up my TOC I have something that says “Article I” on top of my “Heading 1″ icon, and therefore every time I select a title to be included as a heading 1 in my TOC in automatically puts in the words “Article I” before it (ex. Article I. Abstract) It’s driving my crazy and I really don’t know what I did wrong. When I open a new word document is just has the regular “AaBbCcDd” letters on top of the “Heading 1″ icon. I would appreciate any help! Thanks!

  80. Hi Mariella

    I have no idea what you mean by the letters/words ‘on top of the Heading 1 icon’. There is no Heading 1 icon in any version of Word (for Windows) that I’ve seen. SO I suspect you may have a customized template/toolbar for your organization that includes these icons.

    You’ll have to go back to the creator of the template to find out what’s going on.


  81. You are amazing Rhonda. Thank you so much.

  82. I can create a multilevel list in Word 2010 and then go in and modify the styles so they look the way I want (indents, etc.). BUT, if I want to modify the numbering format for one of the levels, all the indenting goes haywire and I have to re-do that step. Why won’t it keep the indent formatting I have set for the styles?

  83. Hi Barb

    You have to change the multilevel list ‘gallery’ styles to match the usual styles that you see in the style pane. See the second bullet point under the ‘Changing the styles’ heading at the end of the main article.


  84. I don’t see the Manage Styles button in Word 2010. I see Change Styles but there’s no Edit tab on that one. Sorry to be dense or blind, but I just don’t see it. Thanks for responding so quickly.

  85. Hi again Barb

    In Word 2010 (and 2007), you find the Manage Styles button here:

    1. Go to the Home tab.
    2. Go to the Styles group.
    3. Click the dialog launcher button (that tiny little square with an arrow in the bottom right corner of the Styles group, below the large ‘Change Styles’ button). This opens the Styles pane.
    4. At the bottom of the Styles pane, there are three buttons — the one on the right is the Manage Styles button (hover over it to see the name of it).

    That should get you started.


  86. Found the button, Rhonda. I had my cursor in a Heading 1 style which I had defined as the first level in my multilevel list. (FYI, after I initially set up my multilevel list I modified all of the styles to be flush left to the margin, not a cascading indent.) When I went to the Modify Styles dialog box per your directions, the style selected to edit defaulted to Heading 1. I clicked on Modify, then Format/Numbering but the only option I had was to change the numbered list style, not the multilevel number style.
    When I went into the Multilevel List from the Paragraph group, right clicked on the Current List and went to Modify from there, any change I made to the numbering scheme made the indents I had set go away. I think it’s just an unrequested feature of Word these days. Oh well. Thanks for trying.

  87. I’ve checked my styles and they seem set correctly for determining the next number. When I looked over my document, all my numbered paragraphs turned out to be Heading 1, not using 2 or 3. So, when I create a table of contents, all “levels” list. When I change 4.1 from heading 1 to heading 1, the numbering goes to 1.1. Very frustrating.
    Solution: Go ahead and click the Heading 2, then click the numbering button to removing number display. Click the Numbering button once more, and voila, 4.1. Not ideal, but fixing an existing document is important.

  88. Thank you SO much!

  89. Rhonda- Great post. I think you have saved me. I continue to have one problem though. About half way through my document it begins the numbering over. I have tried changing list levels as well as set numbering levels. When I use the set numbering levels function, it will make a change but continues to go one number less than I want. Fore example: It shows in the document as I try to set it as It shows up as… no matter what I do. Any thoughts?

    Thanks for the help!

  90. When I change “Set Numbering Values” to skip numbers/letters it inserts a number of returns.

    EG if I have a list from 1-4 and I want to change “4″ to skip to “7″ i would expect to see.

    1 Text
    2 Text
    3 Text
    7 Text

    However I see

    1 Text
    2 Text
    3 Text
    7 Text

    Please help. Please note that this does not occur on every PC I have tried. I have tried to hunt down a setting with no luck.

  91. Hi Adam

    I just did a very quick test of this in Word 2010 (Windows 7) and it worked fine for me.

    I suggest try looking for an answer, or asking your question on the Microsoft Answers forum for Word: http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/office/forum/word to see if someone there can help you.


  92. Extremely helpful as ever and much appreciated.
    A question- I’ve found in “Modify Multilevel list” the panel “Apply changes to” is greyed out inhibiting me from selecting “from this point on”
    “Level to show in gallery” is also greyed out and Level # is frozen regardless of which Level I select. Note every level is linked to its corresponding style. I am stuck on this problem and searching is fruitless so far. Vernon

  93. HI Vernon

    I’ve recently found the same with the Levels too — just yesterday I was trying to apply Level 2 to the 2nd level number but only Level 1 was preserved (Word 2007).

    I *think* the ‘Apply changes to’ might depend on where you are in the document when you’re trying to modify the list. Perhaps if you’re at the beginning of the document and either in or before the first use of the styles, you don’t get the options, but later in the document (after you’ve used the list styles on some text) you get the option. Again, I noticed that yesterday too when I was trying to modify the multilevel list after I’d already set up some lists. I haven’t tested this ‘theory’, so I’m only guessing.


  94. Hi Rhonda, thank you for this helpful post. I need to create a template for multilevel-list-numbering such that the list-style should be default for all the documents generated from the template. What I have observed is that inspite of changing the list-style to eg 1,1.1,1.1.1 using your approach; when I generate a document, it seems to stick to the default style of 1,a,i. Could you suggest how I should deal with the same ? Thanks.

  95. Hi Delz

    Just to confirm… Are you setting up the list style in the template and saving the template, then creating a new doc based on that template? Oh, and make sure the template you’re saving to is NOT ‘normal.dotx’ — save to a differently named template.


  96. Hi Rhonda
    I am setting up the list style in the template and saving it with a different name. But when a generate a new doc based on that template and select the numbering option, it enables the default Word settings (1,a,i) unless I manually check the list style.

  97. Hello, I followed these intructions, but when I try to restart numbering back to 1 within the outline, the numbering sequence goes whacky. Any suggestons as to what I might be doing wrong?

  98. Hi Rhonda – so glad to have found you! I have created a multi-level list – level 1 is bold but level 2 – I only want the number and definition bold. Text follows on same line like this:

    1.1 Name. (all bold) The name of the company is xxx (not bold)
    I cannot get it to stop bold the whole sentence. Please help. Many thanks!
    - Joan

  99. Hi Joan

    I don’t think Word can do that. You can bold the number separately using the font settings for the numbers, and you can bold the entire paragraph of text after the number using the styles, but I don’t think you can bold a single word after the number only using the either of these.

    I expect you can only bold the first word manually, OR bold the whole paragraph automatically, not a mixture of both automatically.


  100. Thanks so much for your quick response, Rhonda – I guess I can stop pulling my hair out now! haha… love this blog BTW!

  101. Hi Rhonda

    thanks for this guide!! However, I have a problem, the same described by CM: the third level doesn’t restart, even though I checked “restart list after level 2″. I’m going crazy!! Many thanks


  102. Hi Delz (Aug 21, 2012 comment)

    Sorry I’ve taken a while to get back to you — I needed time to test this from scratch.

    It all worked fine for me. The critical thing is to assign the levels to the existing List Number styles (see steps 10, 21, and 33 above) and to assign the number sequence and levels you want to use (same steps — check the screen shots). When I did that, then saved my doc as a template, then created a new doc based on that template, I was able to assign the List Number styles and get the correct sequence. My numbering did not revert back to the 1, a, i, sequence.


  103. Hi Rhonda,
    Thank you for replying. I tried out the entire procedure again and it worked perfectly !!! I have currently developed a software that merges different word documents (.docx) into one complete document and it also takes a template as an input; whose style will be applied across the final merged document. Is there any way through which the style in the template gets applied automatically over the merged documents without having me to manually select all the content of the final merged document and then apply the style (Numbered List style) ? Is there a way to set the default style of the template as the Numbered List style ?

  104. Thank you for producing this guide – it worked perfectly and sorted out the ridiculous errors that my previous attempts had created!

  105. I’ve been struggling for a while now with creating numbered lists, but thanks to your clear instructions, I finally got a numbered list to behave the way I wanted. Bless!

  106. Thank you so much I have been able to successfully create List Numbering with 5 levels. I have created a Style Set and added the list numbering styles to Quick Styles. The problem I now have is when applying the level 3 it appear like this: any suggestions.
    1. Heading 2
    1.1 Heading 3
    1.1.1 Heading 4
    2.1.1 Heading 4
    3.1.1 Heading 4
    2. Heading 2
    2.1 Heading 3
    1.2.1 Heading 4

    Regards Annette.

  107. [...] guys. I finally made it to work correctly, and the only source that helped me was this explanation: http://cybertext.wordpress.com/2010/…ist-numbering/ in case someone have the same [...]

  108. Hi Rhonda, thanks for a great explanation. Most impressive, you have saved me a heap of time.

    I do have one slight issue. I have created the new list in Normal.DOTM (Word 2013) so it is available as a default bullet list. However I have to click on the down arrow of the Multilevel List button and select it from the list. Is it possible to assign my new bullet list as the default so it appears at the top as the ‘Current List’ (and would consequently be used simply by pressing the button)? If I select it once then for the rest of the document is becomes the default but if I open a new document it reverts back to the Word default multilevel list.

    I hope i have not missed this explanation in all these posts.

    Thanks again for your help. Regards Richard

  109. Hi Richard

    Good question, but I don’t know the answer. However, take a look at the image under step 5 at the beginning of this post — there’s an option (greyed out in the image) for selecting the type of style. You want to choose List to add it to the List Gallery, as far as I am aware.

    But that’s about all I can suggest.


  110. I was able to fix a quirky Table of Contents with this blog. Thank you very much. Will contribute to your blog.

  111. I am trying to continue a list that goes something like this
    1.2.S (yes S )

    The list is for CTD drug submission and that is the requirement =, so i am not just making this up.
    I somehow managed to play with the numbers, but, i had to go into margin editing and change the values of the numbers/letters manually, which defeats the purpose of using the list in the first place. The change values button only had numerical values.

    my problem is>>> after i have changed the number into a letter, how to get it to continue to number with the number in its proper position, and once i don’t want that letter anymore, or if i need a different letter, or even replace it with a number, how do i change it so it does not affect the numbering above the point of change

  112. Hi Daniel

    I’d be very surprised if Word could do this. You’re mixing up numbers and letter at level 3, and to add further complications, the letters aren’t in alphabetical order either.


  113. I followed your instructions, but I needed to make my list number a 1.0 instead of 1.; list number 1 a 1.1, etc. I am not using a 3rd level feature, so my next number should have been 1.2. I get 2.1 instead???

  114. anyone know how to make the 1st level 1.1. and increment to 1.2. and so on?

  115. Hi Bryan

    I’m not sure you can do this. I suggest you search for/ask your question on the Microsoft Word forum to see if anyone there has a solution: http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/office/forum/word


  116. […] So, if you are trying to solve style problems with multilevel numbered lists, take a look at Word 2007: Taming multilevel list numbering. […]

  117. What a life saver! I was trying to create a list for a couple of days and then found this tutorial. Great instructions. Thanks.

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