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Word: Change the case of the first letter of each bullet list item

July 14, 2011

Colette, one of my authors, asked if there was a way to stop Word automatically capitalizing the first word of each item in a bulleted list. Our style guide is to NOT capitalize list items when they are part of the stem sentence; for example, we DON’T capitalize a list like this:

At the grocery store, she purchased:

  • apples
  • oranges
  • pears
  • bacon
  • detergent.

We DO capitalize items in a list where one or more items are a complete sentence.

The problem with Word is that it’s all or nothing. The only option you can set is to let Word capitalize the first word of every sentence (the default) or not (in Word 2007: Word Options  Proofing > AutoCorrect button.)

You can’t specify a different setting for bulleted or numbered lists. As a result, typing a new bullet list item changes the first letter to upper case, even if you want lower case (see the see also list below for an alternative). And it’s a nuisance to have to correct them one at a time.

But there’s a trick you can use to convert the first letter of each item in a bulleted list to lower case. I first wrote about it in 2004, but it’s worth repeating as it’s a clever thing you can do.

You hold down the Alt key as you drag the mouse over the bullets and just the first letters of each item. This selects just that text. Then you press Shift+F3 to convert the upper case letters to lower case.

Hold down ALT and drag carefully to select just the first letters

Hold down ALT and drag carefully to select just the first letters

Neat, huh?

See also:

[Links last checked July 2011]

3 comments

  1. This doesn’t seem to work in Word 2010. :(


  2. Hi Sairah

    Yes, it’s much more difficult to do in both Word 2007 and Word 2010, which is a shame as it was a good trick in earlier versions of Word.

    –Rhonda


  3. […] change the case of the first letter in a bulleted list, see https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2011/07/14/word-change-the-case-of-the-first-letter-of-each-bullet-li… (note: this doesn’t work very well in Word 2007 and later, though it worked really well in […]



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