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: Changing Outline Heading Level.

Changing Outline Heading Level

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated October 17, 2015)


Word contains a powerful outlining system that allows you to quickly make changes to document structure. This is done in Outline view, which is invoked by clicking the Outline tool on the View tab of the ribbon, or by clicking on the Outline view icon at the left side of the horizontal scroll bar.

When you switch to Outline view, Word automatically displays the Outlining tab of the ribbon. You use the controls on this ribbon tab to change heading levels for your outline. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Specify the maximum heading level you want displayed by using the Outline Level drop-down list.
  2. Place the insertion point on the heading whose level you want to change.
  3. Click on one of the tools, to the left of the Outline Level drop-down list, that look like left-pointing arrows to make the heading a higher level. The tool with two left-pointing arrows will promote the paragraph to the Heading 1 level, while the tool with one left-pointing arrow will promote it by one heading level.
  4. Click on one of the tools, to the right of the Outline Level drop-down list, that look like right-pointing arrows to make the heading a lower level. The tool with two right-pointing arrows will demote the paragraph to body text (it will no longer be a heading), while the tool with one right-pointing arrow will demote it by one heading level.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (10515) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Changing Outline Heading Level.

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. ...


Setting the Left Indent of a Paragraph in a Macro

When using a macro to format text, you can set all sorts of attributes for paragraphs or individual characters. On attribute ...

Discover More

Feeling All Powerful?

Need all your Control Panel shortcuts in a simple place? Use this tip to create a special folder that contains all the power ...

Discover More

Finding Quoted Text in VBA

Macros are created for all sorts of purposes in creating, editing, and processing documents. You might want to use a macro to ...

Discover More

Comprehensive VBA Guide Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) is the language used for writing macros in all Office programs. This complete guide shows both professionals and novices how to master VBA in order to customize the entire Office suite for their needs. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2010 today!

More WordTips (ribbon)

Printing an Outline

Outlining is a great way to develop the content of your document. If you need to, you can even print the outline and only the ...

Discover More

Navigating Your Document Using Outline View

When you need to get around a long document, a really helpful method is to use the Outline view built into Word. This tip ...

Discover More

Formatting In Your Outline

Don't like the formatting that appears when looking at your document in Outline view? You can turn off the formatting and ...

Discover More

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.


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 7 - 1?

2017-04-25 12:03:00


This is exactly what I was looking for, thank you very much! I never heard of this option anywhere before your post.

2015-10-23 11:05:12


How do you change the actual number in the auto numbering? I want 1: to be 1.

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

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.