Hidden Numbering options in Word


It’s vexing that the numbering features in Word aren’t all in the one place. Instead they’re spread across three different dialog boxes including “Adjust List Indents … ” and “Set Numbering Value…”.  Those two bland names hide some useful Word tricks.  Numbering can also be set as a style.

The main Numbering Gallery lets you choose a numbering style and the main settings.  The other settings are on the right-click menu in the list itself.

Adjust List Indents

Hiding on this relatively obscure dialog is a very useful number formatting option – Follow number with.

Right-click in a list and choose Adjust List indents.

It’s the only way to access these options.  They aren’t available via Define New Number Format where they should be.

Number position: The gap between the margin and the start of each number.

Text indent: the position where the following text begins.

Here’s a slightly extreme example with Number Position: 0.5″  and Text indent: 1″

As you can see, the tab markers on the ruler show the two positions.  You can use those markers to adjust the positioning.

Follow Number with

Maybe you won’t want tabs between the number and the text?  If so, go to Adjust List Indents | Follow Number with.

Tab is the default and the ‘Adjust List Indents’ dialog is so underused that many think all numbering must have a tab after it.

Space is also possible or nothing at all. Space is useful as we’ll see in a moment.

Changing the Adjust List Indent setting to space lets you create numbered lists that look like normal paragraphs.

The intermediate lines are created with a line break (Shift + Enter) with a character style for consistency.

‘Nothing’ can merge the numbering into, say, a serial number.

Set Numbering Value

Another right-click menu which not only sets the starting value of the list but also if it continues numbering from a previous list.

Continue from previous list will use the next number from the end of the previous list.

Advance value (skip numbers) lets you set a different start value for the continued list.

Set Numbering Value is also available from the right-click menu within a list plus quick options for restarting a list at 1 or continue numbering.

You can set any starting number you like up to 32,767.

In our tests, that’s the highest starting value accepted, though the list will count above that.

Style Control

The default list numbering style is List Paragraph but you can change that.

Make different styles for various types of numbering in a document.

All the numbering options are under Format | Numbering.