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 March 21, 2020)

3

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 five minus 1?

2020-11-11 20:09:00

Gabriela Garcia

Thank you, this was exactly what I was looking for! The most common shortcut I kept finding was just ctrl shft L kept changing my font with bullets which was very annoying..


2020-05-04 11:07:56

Annie Strand

Thank you!
I am in the midst of exam, taking notes and it's driving me crazy to have to press the bullets symbol every time. When pressing * and then tab, the * doesn't change into a neat circle and this really helped me. So thank you!


2020-03-22 18:22:53

Karyn Peverill

There's a much easier way - just type in an asterisk in the first line and then tab. It will automatically bullet point to default.


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