Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 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: Adding Line Numbers.

Adding Line Numbers

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated September 26, 2020)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365


There are many types of documents that require the use of line numbers. Typically, this is done for legal documents. For instance, each line of a legal contract may need to be numbered. Word allows you to easily add line numbers to your document. This is done in the following manner:

  1. Position the insertion point anywhere in the section that you want to have line numbers. (Line numbering can be controlled on a section-by-section basis.)
  2. Display the Layout (Page Layout in earlier versions of Word) tab of the ribbon.
  3. Click anywhere on the Show Line Numbers tool (in the Page Setup group) to display a drop-down list of options.
  4. Select Line Numbering Options. Word displays the Layout tab of the Page Setup dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The Layout tab of the Page Setup dialog box.

  6. Click on the Line Numbers button. Word displays the Line Numbers dialog box. (See Figure 2.)
  7. Figure 2. The Line Numbers dialog box.

  8. Make sure the Add Line Numbering check box is selected.
  9. In the Line Numbers dialog box, specify the number at which you want to begin the numbering and the other characteristics you want used.
  10. Click OK to close the Line Numbers dialog box.
  11. Click OK to close the Page Setup dialog box.

You should note that you can only see line numbers when working in Print Layout view. If you are working in one of the other views, then the line numbers are hidden. In addition, Word adds line numbers only to the text in the main document. It won't add them to other elements, such as tables or text in shapes or text boxes.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (8795) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Adding Line Numbers.

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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