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: Applying Bullets from the Keyboard.

Applying Bullets from the Keyboard

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 29, 2019)


Word includes a handy-dandy tool (available on the Home tab of the ribbon, in the Paragraph group) that allows you to add bullets to a paragraph in a jiffy and just as easily remove them. Unfortunately, there is no just-as-easy way to do the same thing using the keyboard.

If you are bound and determined to use the keyboard to apply (and remove) bullets, there are a couple of things you can look at. The first is to use styles and define keystrokes that apply your styles. There are numerous other benefits to using styles, but most of those have been covered in other WordTips.

Closely related to this approach are two built-in shortcuts provided by Word. If you press Ctrl+Shift+L, Word is supposed to automatically apply the predefined List Bullet style to your paragraph. To remove bullets, you could also use the Ctrl+Shift+N shortcut, which applies the Normal style.

While these may work for what you want done, they don't take the same approach to formatting as the Bullets tool on the Home tab of the ribbon. If you want to have that same functionality from the keyboard, you must customize your keyboard. Follow these steps:

  1. Display the Word Options dialog box. (In Word 2007 click the Office button and then click Word Options. In Word 2010 or a later version, display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. At the left side of the dialog box click Customize (Word 2007) or Customize Ribbon (later versions of Word).
  3. Click the Customize button, near the bottom-left of the dialog box. Word displays the Customize Keyboard dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Customize Keyboard dialog box.

  5. In the Categories list, choose All Commands. (You'll need to scroll down to the end.)
  6. In the Commands list, choose FormatBulletDefault. (You'll need to scroll down quite a ways.)
  7. Click in the Press New Shortcut Key box.
  8. Press the keystroke you want to use to apply bullets. Alt+B is a good choice, since it is not in use on a default Word system. (See Figure 2.)
  9. Figure 2. The Customize Keyboard dialog box with the previous steps applied.

  10. Click on Assign.
  11. Click on Close to dismiss the Customize Keyboard dialog box.
  12. Click on Cancel to close the Word Options dialog box.

Now, whenever you press the keystroke you chose in step 4, it is the same as clicking on the Bullets tool. Press the keystroke again, and the bullets are gone.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (12699) 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: Applying Bullets from the Keyboard.

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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What is 4 + 3?

2019-07-11 17:26:14


Thank you

2018-12-20 12:08:46


Not all heroes wear capes. You sir are a hero indeed

2018-02-04 18:25:27


And if you only want one bullet, you can press and hold the Alt key while you type the numbers 0 1 4 9 on the numeric keypad, it will insert a bullet character from your currently selected font - " • ". Note that this is likely to have a different weight to the bullets used in the bullet list.

2017-02-07 13:17:19


THANK YOU!!!!!!!

2016-09-26 22:54:08


Everything for me was the same except for the beginning. I have Office 2016 and I had to:

1. go to "File" first

2. click "Options"

3. click "Customize Ribbon"

*to the left is your list of tabs and to the right is the square showing the information under what you just clicked

4. at the bottom left of the square, it should say "Keyboard shortcuts:" here's where you click "Customize" and it's the same from here

Thank you for the help!

2016-08-31 04:21:44


Thanks man, it helped a lot.

2015-10-14 00:54:59


Great tip !

2015-07-19 15:45:57


Bravo! Nicely done.

2015-05-25 07:23:28


Yeah sorry to come back again, mate...
I just wanted to make a better Tutorial on How To Apply Bullets From Your Keyboard, since your Tutorial sucks really hard, lol.

Steps for Word 2013:
1. From "File" Tab of your Word, click on "Options"';
2. "Customize Ribbon";
3. "Choose commands from: Popular Commands", click on "Bullets" to highlight it and then go at the bottom of the window, where it is "Keyboard Shortcuts" and click on "Customize";
4. At "Categories" select "Home Tab" and at the "Commands" select "Bullets Gallery" (scroll down untill you find it) and then click at "Press new shortcut key" and assign any combinations of key you want (i personally like Ctrl+B but you can choose any you like);
5. At "Save changes in", select "Normal", then click on "Close"
6. Click on "Ok"
7. Have fun! ^_^

2015-05-25 07:08:25


1. The image at step no. 3 it should be at Step no. 4. The image is also confusing because it doesn`t show the exact thing you are showing and is under the WRONG Step.
2. At Command List, I NEVER EVER SEEN, the "FormatBulletDefault". Sorry to dissapoint you.
3. Because of all the reasons above, this "usefull" tip doesn`t work for me.
I am using Word 2013.
So thx for nothing, mate!!!

2015-01-28 00:24:35


Thank you!! I have been meaning to work out how to do this for years! You've made life so much easier.

2014-10-29 14:37:38


This tip saved my bacon! Thank you.

2013-11-05 08:35:02


In case it's helpful to someone else: I use bullets from the keyboard in Word 2010 by hitting 'alt' then 'o' then 'n' (that's not a key combination, you hit those keys one at a time). This emulates Word's old menu behavior, and opens up the "numbering and bullets" dialog box, which you can navigate with the cursor keys.

2013-11-02 04:37:15


Excellent tip. Would never even think that there was a keyboard shortcut for bullets. Never used them before.

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