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Understanding the \s switch in Word's {SEQ} code

The \s n switch inside the { SEQ } field code isn’t easy to understand so here’s an example of how it resets numbering after a Heading style.

Use {SEQ \s n }  to restart numbering from 1 after a chosen Heading style. E.g. { SEQ Identifier \s 1 } to reset after Heading 1 style { SEQ Identifier \s 3 } to reset after Heading 3 style.

{SEQ \s n } is mostly used to resume numbering to 1 at the start of a new chapter or section of a document.

SEQ \s example

On the left is a series of {SEQ OfficeWatch \s 2 } field codes (in red) with Heading 2 styled headings.  After each ‘Heading 2’, the {SEQ} restarts at 1.

The wording of Microsoft’s documentation of the SEQ \s switch can be misunderstood:

“ Resets the sequence number at the heading level following the “s”. For example, { SEQ figure \s 2 } starts numbering at the Heading 2 style. “

The confusion is over the phrases ‘at the heading level’ and ‘starts numbering at the Heading 2 style’ … Sometimes it’s misunderstood to mean reset to the numbering level of the Heading 2 style – in other words if Heading 2 style has numbering enabled and has reached say “Chapter 5” then the {SEQ \s 2} will reset to 5.  But that’s NOT right.

Reset means ‘reset to 1’ which makes more sense.  With {SEQ ... \s 1} you can restart {SEQ} numbering at the start of each chapter (assuming the chapter begins with a Heading 1 style).

The \s switch only resets if there’s a previous Heading of the selected style (1, 2 etc.) AND no previous {SEQ} with the same identifier. In other words, the first SEQ \s … code after a matching Heading.  There can be text/content between the Heading and the SEQ \s n field code.

Copy the same SEQ code

All that means you can copy the \s n switch to all the SEQ fields in a document, not just the one after each heading.  Word will reset the numbering when necessary and ignore when \s doesn’t apply.

See the example above, all the field codes are exactly the same {SEQ OfficeWatch \s 2} whether it’s needed or not. The paragraphs can be rearranged without worrying about special switches for the SEQ field first after a heading.

Why Word’s SEQ code is a godsend
Word’s SEQ field code – all the options and switches

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