Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. 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: Using Outline Numbering in a Table.

Using Outline Numbering in a Table

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated September 17, 2022)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021


Greg wondered if it was possible to use outline numbering in a table. He questions this because whenever he presses the Tab key to advance to different bullet tiers (as he does outside of tables), he is instead taken to the next cell in the table.

To answer the question, yes, it is possible to use outline numbering in a table. The problem here is how you are choosing to advance between bullet tiers. The Tab key, in a table, is always used to move from one cell to another. To change indent levels—which gives you the next level of bullets or numbering—you need to use the Promote tool on the Outlining tab of the ribbon and, conversely, the Demote tool to return to a higher level.

If you prefer to not use the tools on the Outlining tab of the ribbon, but instead want to use the keyboard, you can change the outline level by using Shift+Alt+Left Arrow or Shift+Alt+Right Arrow. These provide the same functionality as the Increase Indent and Decrease Indent buttons. If, for some reason, you want to actually add a tab character in the text appearing in a cell, you need to press Ctrl+Tab.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (8380) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Using Outline Numbering in a Table.

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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