by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 20, 2018)
Don often uses bullets. When he clicks on the Bullet tool on the Home tab of the ribbon, he gets a variety of choices. When he chooses one of the bullet formats, it is applied to the paragraph he's about to type. However, he can see on the ruler that the paragraph now has a right-aligned tab at the right margin of the paragraph. If he starts typing, the first letter he types is aligned to this right-margin tab and the rest of the text wraps to the next line. Don can certainly "fix" the problem by laboriously removing the tab Word puts in then going to Paragraph, Format, indicating the amount of indent he wants, and going back to the ruler and adding the proper tab. He wonders, though, how he can fix this problem permanently so that the bulleted item is properly formatted.
When you use the Bullet tool on the ribbon, Word applies a "List Paragraph" style to the paragraphs you are bulleting and creates a bulleted list. A bulleted list is a group of paragraphs that have attached the same bullet template, the group may consist of the paragraphs that you selected to apply bulleting to or is built up as you type bulleted paragraphs until you change to a non-bulleted paragraph. If you bullet some paragraphs further down the document you create a new list.
Associated with the Bullet tool on the ribbon is a bullet template (for lack of a better term) that defines the bullet symbol, its indent, alignment and size and color. To see the available bullet templates, click the down-arrow alongside the tool. To change the Bullet tool to a new template, click the desired template symbol. To change the settings of the selected template or to create a new bullet template, click Define New Bullet.
In Don's particular case, it seems that the List Paragraph style has an unwanted tab setting in it. The short answer to the problem is to change the List Paragraph style so that it reflects how you want the bulleted lists to appear. (Display the styles list, locate the List Paragraph style, display the Modify Style dialog box for that style, and make the changes.)
If you still cannot get the Bullet tool to apply what you think should be applied, then you can try the following:
At this point, the gallery of bullets should be reset to its default condition.
The better solution, for the long run, is to create your own styles for your bulleted lists and stop using the Bullet tool altogether. This approach gives you full control of the paragraph layout and the bullet characteristics. For example, you might create a style called "BodyBullet." (How you create styles is covered in other issues of WordTips.) When you want a bulleted paragraph, simply click on "BodyBullet" in the Quick Style Gallery visible on the Home tab of the ribbon. You may need to create several bulleted styles for use when you want different bullet symbols or different paragraph parameters.
WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (12580) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365.
The First and Last Word on Word! Bestselling For Dummies author Dan Gookin puts his usual fun and friendly candor back to work to show you how to navigate Word 2013. Spend more time working and less time trying to figure it all out! Check out Word 2013 For Dummies today!
When you apply bullet formatting to paragraphs, Word allows you to choose from a variety of different bullets. If you ...Discover More
If you know the secret, you can use actual words as "bullets" in a bulleted list. The built-in bulleted lists in Word ...Discover More
Want to find the bulleted paragraphs within a large document? Word doesn't have a built-in way to search for this ...Discover More
FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."
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.