Word: When Restart Numbering doesn’t work

August 27, 2009

Sometimes, no matter what you do, you just can’t get a numbered list in Word to restart numbering at 1.

Here’s a trick that works sometimes (I don’t guarantee this trick will work every time, but it’s a quick and easy thing to try):

  1. Put your cursor at the beginning of the first item in the list.
  2. Press Enter. The first item now moves down one to the second position and the first position becomes a blank line.
  3. Put your cursor at the beginning of the second item (was the first), and right-click.
  4. Select Restart Numbering. Your second item should now be number 1.
  5. Delete the blank line above it.


  1. Thanks this is a good quick fix, and your right it didn’t work every time but I found if the times it does not work and only holds the change for a second then goes back; try this.

    Add yet another line return with the enter key
    Then click the Undo icon

    It changes it back again, starting over, and stays this time.

  2. This was a good quick fix for me as well. I’m a technical writer by profession, and often have to edit “legacy” documents that contain generations of incorrect formatting and embedded errors that cause seemingly random quirks. Thanks for a useful post!

  3. This also works : do restart at one then ctrl + Z

  4. Brilliant. I’ve been banging my head against this problem within a text box for an hour until i came across this fix. Thanks!

  5. Brilliant!!!!!!!!!! Many thanks.

  6. Thank you. Your workaround worked perfectly.

  7. you’ve saved me a lot of time and effort. Was trying to figure out how to fix this issue. And no matter what I tried, I could not get the list to restart numbering. :)
    Glad I decided to check it out on the Internet. Do you know what’s wrong and why we face this problem?

  8. Thanks for this tip – I’ve been tearing my hair out. Just to ADD TO THIS TIP: if you are stuck in a text box or some other form of graphics box, select the entire list first then click the *List Paragraph* style in the Styles list first, then do the tip above.

    Microsoft excelled themselves with this bloated piece of junkware this time. There are so may features that just don’t work right.

  9. If you turn off the List Paragraph style’s “Automatically Update” option, you can restart numbering without problems

  10. In Word 2013, I opened up modify style,by right clicking on the style box, chose style, then changed “style based on” to “normal”. after that I had no problems.

  11. Sometimes I found that just copying and editing a line where the numbering was correct worked as well. Again it wasn’t every time but it helped occasionally. Why is Word so horribly random!!!

  12. Thank you!!!!

  13. Worked for me too. Thanks!

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