Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365. 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: Combining First and Second Numbered Levels on One Paragraph.

Combining First and Second Numbered Levels on One Paragraph

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated August 22, 2020)

2

Alan uses the numbering feature in Word to create two-level paragraph numbering. He would like to create a numbering system that combines the first and second levels in the same paragraph so that the numbering appears as 1. a) and then the second paragraph as b), then c), and so on. He wonders how to accomplish this.

The bullets and numbering feature in Word allow you to automatically create numbered paragraphs where you can specify the format for the numbering, 1. 2. 3., or a. b. c. The Outline tab in the Bullets and Numbering dialog box makes this easy. Creating a custom outline can be done in several different ways. We'll discuss a couple of them. Each option assumes that you have not yet entered any text and that you are beginning with a clean, blank document.

Your first option requires making some changes in the Outline Numbering dialog box.

  1. Place the insertion point where you want to begin paragraph 1.
  2. Type 1. (that's the number one followed by a period).
  3. Press the Tab key.
  4. Type a) (that's the lowercase letter 'a' followed by a right parenthesis).
  5. Press Enter.
  6. Make sure the Home tab of the ribbon is displayed.
  7. Click on the Multilevel List tool in the Paragraph group. Word displays the Multilevel List drop-down list.
  8. Click on Define New Multilevel List. Word displays the Define New Multilevel List dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  9. Figure 1. The Define New Multilevel List dialog box.

  10. Select Level 1.
  11. Select the desired numbering style, in this case a, b, c, from the Number Style for this Level drop-down list.
  12. If necessary, click on More to display more options within the dialog box.
  13. Select the letter or number to start within the Start At field, in this case letter b.
  14. Click OK.

From here you can enter the text you want in the paragraph. When you press Enter, the next level of the outline will appear, in this case, c). Note: When you have finished the outline level for your first number, you will need to repeat these steps for the next section. To do this, just place the insertion point in the document where you will begin your second section (number 2) and repeat the steps.

You probably noticed that this option is based on having a brand-new document. This is because in Word numbered lists are extremely "automated." For instance, if you have a numbered list on page 2 and then insert another list on page 10 that is not related to the first one, Word does not know that they are not the same and will automatically insert the numbers as if they are one list. This can cause all sorts of problems that can, if left unchecked, mess up your document entirely.

Another option, if you want to avoid the automated aspects of numbered lists in Word, is to use the SEQ field. You could use SEQ fields for all of the numbering, or for one level and use the auto numbering feature for the other. You can create the SEQ fields using the menus. However, in this case it is much more cumbersome than it needs to be. Here is how to accomplish the task more quickly. In this case, we are assuming that the text is already in the document and just needs to be numbered.

  1. Place the insertion point in the document where you would like the numbering to appear.
  2. Press Ctrl+F9. Word inserts a pair of field braces.
  3. Inside the braces type the following: SEQ \* alphabetic \* MERGEFORMAT a
  4. Press F9. The letter a appears.

You can enter this field for each new paragraph that needs the numbering. Word keeps track of which letter comes next and will insert the correct one, assuming you are numbering your paragraphs in alphabetical order.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (8096) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Combining First and Second Numbered Levels on One Paragraph.

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Extracting Pictures from a Document

Word allows you to easily insert pictures into your documents. Getting the pictures back out of your documents can be ...

Discover More

Selecting a Row

Need to select an entire row? Here are two really easy ways to make the selection.

Discover More

Viewing Formula Results

When editing information in a cell, you may need to know the result of a portion of your formula. The shortcut described ...

Discover More

Do More in Less Time! Are you ready to harness the full power of Word 2013 to create professional documents? In this comprehensive guide you'll learn the skills and techniques for efficiently building the documents you need for your professional and your personal life. Check out Word 2013 In Depth today!

More WordTips (ribbon)

Ensuring Standardized Numbering

Want to make sure your paragraph numbering looks the same on different computer systems? It's a harder task in Word than ...

Discover More

Automatic Question Numbering

Want to use Word's numbering capabilities to help you number a series of questions? Here's how to accomplish the task as ...

Discover More

Reverse Numbered Lists

Adding numbered lists to your document is a snap; Word provides tools to add them immediately. What Word doesn't do is ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is nine minus 4?

2020-09-04 11:16:59

Janet Schiller

I often have multiple lists in the same document. If Word treats them as one list, all I do is right-click where I want the numbering to restart, and click "restart at..." If the list is numerical, Word will show that I can restart at 1. If it's alphabetic, it will show "restart at a" If necessary, you can also choose an arbitrary letter or number to restart at.


2020-08-24 03:56:47

Richard Price

I followed the above instructions carefully, but they didn't work for me. There's a minor issue with step 4, where if you have the usual AutoCorrect option "Capitalize first letter of sentences" turned on, the a) is converted to A), but I left that as it was, so after step 5 the document looked like this:
1. A)
2.

At step 8 the Multilevel List tool looked slightly different to the screenshot above: the main (top right) pane had 2. on the first line instead of 1) and a. on the third line instead of a). At step 11 after clicking on More the Start At field was already b, but I changed the Enter Formatting for Number field from b. to b) to match what I'd typed (before AutoCorrect). After clicking OK the document looked like this:
a) A)
b)

In case the problem was AutoCorrect, I tried turning off "Capitalize first letter of sentences" but in this case the end result was:
a) a)
b)

What am I doing wrong? The only odd thing I've noticed about the instructions above is that they say "Your first option requires making some changes in the Outline Numbering dialog box", but then go on to describe the Multilevel List tool - is this the same as Outline Numbering?


This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the ribbon interface (Word 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.