Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Sequentially Numbering Elements in Your Document.

Sequentially Numbering Elements in Your Document

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated October 8, 2019)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, and 2013


Word allows you to automatically number items in your document. For instance, you can automatically number figures, tables, or illustrations. If you later reorder these items, Word automatically updates the numbers so they are in order. To sequentially number items in your text, follow these steps:

  1. Position the insertion point where you want the sequential number to appear. For instance, this would be in the caption for the table or figure.
  2. Press Ctrl+F9 to insert field brackets. Make sure the insertion point stays between the brackets.
  3. Type "seq " followed by the name of the element. This name is up to you, but should be the same for each item in this sequence. For instance, you could type "seq figures" or "seq tables" (without the quote marks).
  4. Press F9 to update the field information. Word replaces the field with the next number in the sequence you have specified.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (5680) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Sequentially Numbering Elements in Your Document.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


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What is 2 + 5?

2021-03-01 10:17:48


Stevan, try using Word's columns feature instead of a table to create your layout.


2021-02-27 10:41:31

Stevan Vigneaux

I had no idea "seq" existed! Very cool!

When I implement as above it numbers the cells in my table like this:
1 2 3
4 5 6
7 8 9

But what I want is this (because the users of the doc think "down and then across and down again"):
1 4 7
2 5 8
3 6 9

And, being greedy here, if I add a row to the table I want the numbering to automatically change to this:
1 5 9
2 6 10
3 7 11
4 8 12

Can this be done within Word or do I need to insert an Excel worksheet and do it that way?


2020-04-25 05:19:46

rui camposinhos

My English is not so good.. Sirry for that.
Point is :
I'm can't figure how I can contro in my doc the suequential number of sections subsections etc inside the same chapter.
For some reason I'm not able to get something lije this.
Chapter 4
Section 4.1
Section 4.1
Secion 4.2
Section 4.2.1.
Section 4.3
From a scratch what shoukd be done?
Thank you very much

2020-02-25 13:13:45

Rick Kaz,

I have many documents that the numbering is broken, it occurred from cutting and pasting area between documents. I can not control the Main number set or any of the sub sets. The only way I have found to correct this is to go back and create complete new numbering formats. I have tried the List definer, and it will only affect small portions of the document. I am not sure I am explaining this right. But when I start a document I might have the Number 1, followed by 1.1, then 1.1.1. As the Groups turn into sub groups. Then 2, 3,4,5 and so on. What has happened over time and from merging sections of documents the major area top level 1,2,3,4,5 become disconnected. So if I delete section 2, 3 will not be come 2 but may remain 3 or it may become some random number. Other issues are on occasion the entire second level will not appear. The example would be from 2, instead of 2.1 I get 2.1.1. I would like to know were I can see and control the Numbering layout as it is and how to reconnect it.

2019-10-08 09:37:40

Malcolm Patterson

I have a multilevel list to organize my document. It is numbered in "legal style," that is 1, 1.1, 1.1.1, for successive levels. Within that multilevel list, I often need to introduce another list of five elements (using capital letters A-E). This list may be introduced at any outline level, so it seems that it should be numbered with a SEQ field to keep it independent of the multilevel list.

How can I restart numbering of this SEQ field? Must I assign a different name to each instance of the five-element list?

2019-07-31 02:18:58

Chia Hsing Fang

very wonderful website!

2016-03-11 17:50:10


I am interested in building procedure templates in word I believe word has a special program inserted in the word file that was designed for this purpose ( I forget the name of the program) does this in fact exist?

Also do you do anything with Microsoft Project??

2015-12-16 12:40:40

Lynne York

Hello, Allen,
I support engineers who want me to create circular references for requirements. My question is, how can I create the req references... req_001, req_002 so I can automatically update the requirements throughout the document, if a NEW requirement is added into the middle of the document?
thank you,

2015-01-31 20:23:40

Bonnie McKinnon

I am using Word 2010 and while this tip sort of worked, each table came in with the following error message as well as table number? What would cause this to happen? I would like my 18 tables numbered 1-1, etc.-thanks.

"Table Error! No text of specified style in document.-1"

2013-07-25 21:30:02

WordTips Fan

April J:
Try the following (used a technique for Chapter page numbers):

> Change OUTLINE LEVEL for the style "Heading 7" (under paragraph formatting) to LEVEL 1 so that it will show up flush left in the Table of Contents.

2013-07-23 11:23:43


The comments by VGlover and Marina Michaels seem to be correct, although I have not given them a thorough test. Allen, I suggest you add them to your tip.

2013-07-23 10:55:23

April J

This tip works only in the main document. Which field code should I use for sequential page numbering with Appendix labels (A-1, B-1)?

2013-07-23 04:09:34


Selecting the whole document (Ctrl + A) and then pressing F9 updates numbers entered out of sequence.

2013-07-22 12:23:37

Marina Michaels

John and SGray: I don't think Word automatically updates the numbering when you insert a new number, but perhaps you can select the preceding number and press F9 to update the number?

2013-07-22 11:09:12


Two possible bugs:
Bug 1. I want to sequentially number text boxes, but they all seem to get the same sequential number, namely, 1.
Bug 2. I thought the numbers would act like endnote refs such that if you put one somewhere, the succeeding ones would adjust their numbers to keep the sequence in order. But the sequence numbers do not act intelligently that way. These defects, bugs, or shortcomings make the feature almost useless.

2013-07-22 09:14:59

John Hankwitz

This tip seems to only work when you insert these fields in proper sequence. If you insert a new field before an existing seq field in the document, the number gets repeated, making it useless.

2013-07-21 09:59:29

Rod Grealish

Jack, I'm not sure how your comment is relevant to this tip, or indeed to any tip on this site.

2013-07-20 10:38:29

Jack Matis

Why would some users continue to use Word Pad when they also have Word 2007 on their computers?

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