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: Converting Automatic Numbering to Manual Numbering.

Converting Automatic Numbering to Manual Numbering

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated May 16, 2020)

4

Steve notes that Word's auto-numbering is not suitable for documents that are to be imported into page layout programs such as Adobe InDesign. He wonders if there is a quick way to replace auto-numbering with manual numbering, in the same way that you can convert field text to plain text.

The answer is yes, there is a quick way. Simply follow these steps:

  1. Open the document whose numbering you want to convert. (You may want to open a copy of the document so that you don't mess up the original document.)
  2. Press Alt+F11. Word displays the VBA Editor.
  3. Press Ctrl+G. This opens the Immediate window. (If you get any other type of dialog box, such as the Find and Replace dialog box, then you aren't working in the VBA Editor; you are still in Word. Close the dialog box, make sure the VBA Editor is active, and then repeat this step.)
  4. Type the following in the Immediate window:
  5. ActiveDocument.Range.ListFormat.ConvertNumbersToText
    
  6. Press Enter.

That's it; all the auto-numbered lists in your document are changed to manual numbering. If, instead, you want to affect only a limited portion of the document, make sure that portion is selected before you start the steps and then use this command in step 4:

Selection.Range.ListFormat.ConvertNumbersToText

For those familiar with macros, the difference here is that you are working with the Selection object (the text you have selected) instead of the ActiveDocument object (the entire document).

There are a couple of gotchas related to this approach, however. First, it may appear that your numbered lists no longer line up properly. This is because any custom tab stops set for the lists are deleted and Word reverts to using the default tab stops. This shouldn't be a huge problem, as you are doing this conversion in preparation for importing the document to a page layout program. (The tab stops in that program should take precedence over any you have set in Word.)

The second gotcha is that if you applied the auto-numbered styles using lists, then the numbering isn't really gone. You can apply it again by simply selecting the paragraphs in the lists and pressing Ctrl+Q.

If you would rather not mess with the VBA Editor, then there is another approach you can try out—save your document in RTF format. Many page layout programs (such as InDesign) use a different filter for importing RTF files, with the result that the numbered lists are converted automatically to regular numbers.

Note:

If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the WordTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser 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 (10248) 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: Converting Automatic Numbering to Manual 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. ...

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Comments

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What is 9 + 9?

2020-08-24 16:29:26

Ray

Wow!!! I've searched this from time to time for years and never found the answer. This worked beautifully and took only seconds to complete. Thanks very much.


2020-08-24 04:03:50

Mikka

This is brilliant, thanks a lot! This will save me a lot of trouble. I did however notice that the automatic numbering in a text box is not converted along with the rest. Is there a way to alter the code so that it will also convert the automatic numbering in the text boxes? Thanks in advance!


2020-07-22 16:37:48

Sam B

You just saved me a massive amount of time. Great tip!


2020-06-09 09:09:37

Simon Snell

Thanks for this - I'm using it to paste from Word into Sharepoint and it is very helpful - otherwise all the numbering changes.


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