Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. 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: Ensuring Standardized Numbering.

Ensuring Standardized Numbering

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 28, 2017)

Keith wrote about a problem he was having in his company. It seems that when he formats numbered lists in a document, those lists don't always look the same when the document is opened on other people's systems. What Keith is experiencing is something that seems to be a limitation of Word—when you use the built-in numbering tools (like the ones on the ribbon) you are setting up a numbering scheme that may only work on your system and nobody else's. The reason I say "may" is because setting up numbering in this way is not "static." If you select one of the numbering options from the ribbon, you are doing nothing but saying "use this library item to display my numbering." (The library is the collection of numbering options presented when you click the down-arrow at the right of the Numbering tool. There are seven options in the library.) If you open the same document on a different person's machine, and they have customized the numbering schemes in their library, then the numbering in your document will look different on their system. If you open the same document on your system after you have changed the formatting in the gallery, that document may look different on your system, as well. Because the built-in numbering tools don't provide reliable results, most long-time Word users shy away from using them. (That's a polite way of saying that they avoid them like the plague.) Instead, they either do their numbering manually, or they use one of Word's numbering fields to create their numbering. For instance, the SEQ field is probably the most commonly used field for numbering. It is easy to use, as has been described in other issues of WordTips, and it eliminates most numbering problems in Word. Other fields (also described in other issues of WordTips) include LISTNUM, AUTONUM, AUTONUMLGL, and AUTONUMOUT. Once you know how to use the fields, implementing them in your documents provides much better results than you could get with Word's automatic numbering tools. The same sorts of ideas apply to numbering outlines and headings as well—steer clear of the built-in tools. If you need to create numbered headings or numbered outlines, there's a resource at Shauna Kelly's Web site that you may find useful on this very topic:
http://shaunakelly.com/word/numbering/outlinenumbering.html

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (9742) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Ensuring Standardized Numbering.

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

Hyperlinking to a Specific Excel Worksheet

Creating a hyperlink to an Excel workbook is easy. With the information in this tip you can discover how to hone that ...

Discover More

Deploying Standard Styles through an Organization

When you are working with Word in an organization (regardless of how many people), standardizing styles and their use can ...

Discover More

Clearing the Print Area

Excel allows you to specify which portions of a worksheet should be printed when you send output to your printer. If you ...

Discover More

Create Custom Apps with VBA! Discover how to extend the capabilities of Office 2013 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Access) with VBA programming, using it for writing macros, automating Office applications, and creating custom applications. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2013 today!

More WordTips (ribbon)

Applying Numbers from the Keyboard

Creating a numbered list is often done by using the tools available on the ribbon. With a bit of preparation you can ...

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

Combining First and Second Numbered Levels on One Paragraph

Want to customize your paragraph numbering in Word? There are a few tricks that can be used to automatically display the ...

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 5 + 2?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


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.