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: Combining First and Second Numbered Levels on One Paragraph.

Combining First and Second Numbered Levels on One Paragraph

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 1, 2014)

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 allows 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 with in 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, and 2013. 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. ...

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