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: Changing Outline Heading Level.

Changing Outline Heading Level

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated September 10, 2022)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021


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, 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: 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. ...

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