Numbering Comments

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated August 27, 2020)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, and 2013


Reynolds is a book editor, and she works with manuscripts in Word. She turns on Track Changes and does her work so that the author can see what was done. She needs a way to number comments that appear in comment balloons so that they can be referenced to the author and to others working on the project.

When entering comments they should be numbered by default. That is, they should be numbered as long as you have Word configured to add the initials of the commenter to each comment. For instance, if I insert comments, then they show up in the comment balloons with my intials (ALW) followed by numbers (1, 2, 3, etc.). (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. Comments are automatically numbered in Word.

If your comments don't show up this way, it could be because you don't have Word configured properly. 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 Word 2013 display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. Click Popular (Word 2007) or General (Word 2010 and Word 2013) at the left side of the dialog box. (It may already be selected, by default, in the dialog box.) (See Figure 2.)
  3. Figure 2. The general options of the Word Options dialog box.

  4. Make sure the Initials box has something in it. (Like your initials.)
  5. Click OK.

One thing you need to be aware of is that as you insert comments, Word renumbers them so they are always sequential. In other words, if you have 17 comments in a document and you insert a new one after comment 5, then the current comment 5 (ALW5) becomes 6 (ALW6) and so on, so that you have 18 sequentially numbered comments in a document.

Another approach is to modify the style used to display the comment text. This text uses, appropriately enough, the built-in Comment Text style. You could easily modify this style so that it is automatically numbered. Follow these general steps:

  1. Display the Styles task pane. (Display the Home tab of the ribbon and click the small icon at the bottom right of the Styles group.)
  2. Click the Options link at the bottom of the task pane and change the options so that All Styles are displayed.
  3. In the task pane, hover the mouse pointer over the Comment Text style, click the down-arrow to the right of the style name, and choose Modify Style. Word displays the Modify Style dialog box.
  4. Click Format and then click Numbering.
  5. Pick a numbering style and close all open dialog boxes.

Your existing comments (and any you add in the future) should now be numbered. This approach has the same problem as the earlier approach: the numbers are dynamic, they are not static. The only way to make the numbers non-dynamic is to type them manually and then not change them later.

Of course, you may simply want to rethink how you are referring to your comments. Word keeps track of who enters a comment (thus the initials) as well as the date and time at which a comment was entered. You can see the time for a comment by simply hovering the mouse pointer over the comment. If you referred to comments in this way (perhaps in conjunction with the number), then there could be no confusion on the part of the author as to which comment you reference.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (13385) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013.

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 six less than 9?

2021-07-16 19:40:34


In Reply to Ken Blair (2021-06-23 10:17:10):

Does this code resolve Sheryl's (2021-05-28 16:58:22) comment, "The problem is that they are no longer numbered in the "Revisions" window ." ??

If Yes, how do I as a non-programmer/general user employ/deploy this code on my MS 365 Desktop version of Word? Can you provide instructions?

Much appreciated!

2021-06-23 10:17:10

Ken Blair

This code works in Word 2016 and the Microsoft 365 Desktop versions:

Sub CmtNbr()

Dim i As Long

Dim rngComment As Range

With ActiveDocument

For i = 1 To .Comments.Count

Set rngComment = .Comments(i).Range
With rngComment
If Left(.Text, 7) = "Comment" Then
.Text = "Comment " & i & " " & Mid(.Text, InStr(.Text, "-"))


.Text = "Comment " & i & " - " & .Text

End If

End With

Next i

End With

End Sub

2021-05-28 16:58:22


the problem is not whether the comments are numbered: they are. The problem is that they are no longer numbered in the "Revisions" window . Thus, if you're working on a large document with multiple comments in a single paragraph or section, it is extremely difficult to tell which comment (in the Revisions window) goes with which number in the body of the document. Earlier versions of Word had the number in both places for easy matching. I have wasted an enormous amount of time since they removed the numbers in the Revisions window - extremely user unfriendly!

2020-08-28 14:49:25

Barbara Brady

In the latest version of Word (Office 365), in All Markup or Simple Markup views, the initials of commentors are shown in little colored circles, with a different color for each person, but they are not numbered. If I print the document, the colored circles go away, and the comments are numbered sequentially, with the initials of each commenter. Is there a way to see numbered comments wen editing the document?

2020-08-21 07:10:38


I really loved this review or a guide to add comments to the microsoft word 2020. impressive

2019-12-21 17:13:08

Gayle Grant

Only some degree with your own document. If others send you a document those comments will not be numbered. HELP!

2018-03-19 10:16:04

holly regan-jones

Hi Kathy Winch, many thanks for your post last year. It's fixed my Comments numbering problem... Holly

2017-06-23 12:11:40

Kathy Winch

If you haven't already figured the Comment Numbering issue out, I thought I would share the following link. I found it be helpful in tackling this issue.


2017-06-22 14:29:13


Or just use this code:
Sub numberComments()
Dim i As Integer
For i = 1 To Application.ActiveDocument.Comments.Count
Application.ActiveDocument.Comments(i).Range = i & ". " & Application.ActiveDocument.Comments(i).Range
End Sub

2016-08-19 16:36:17

Tom D

This trick for numbering did not work. I have Word for Office 2013. The comments are just listed by the person's name, not the initials and not numbered. The procedure above only numbered the comment text by paragraphs (so one or more numbers for each comment at beginning of paragraphs inside comments).

2016-08-16 06:04:43


It sort of works, but my document crashed while it was renumbering the comments, maybe there's too many comments in a long document. I'm using Word for Mac (Verison 15.24).

Rohit - I'm sure you've sorted yourself out now, but if you put your cursor in a comment then look in the styles pane, the "comment text" style should be right at the top of the list.

2016-05-09 19:22:22

Rohit Turkhud

My apologies for not clarifying that i am using Word 2013.

2016-05-09 19:20:58

Rohit Turkhud

I am unable to "number" the comments on "track changes". I followed the above but could not find the "comment text" style in my style options.

it is indeed frustrating not to have numbered comments?

Any idea if this is a bug that will be fixed?

2016-05-03 16:34:24


An editor buddy just pointed out that if you're in draft view, the comments are numbered. That's better than nothing, but I'd still like to have numbers in print view.

2016-05-03 13:56:49


Has anyone solved this yet? I'm using Word 2016 in Win10 and I can't figure out how to number my comments. In Word 2010 it happened automatically.

2016-01-26 05:06:07


Sorry Phil, no luck.
Please post back here if you are more successful!

2016-01-25 18:02:04

Phil Gandini

I can see comment numbers in Word 2013 on my Mac, but no comment numbers in Word 2016 on the same computer. What's up? Did you find an answer to your Q Michelle?


2016-01-08 22:38:35


Any idea how to display comment numbers in Word 2016? I can't find that information anywhere. I'm using a mac.

2015-03-14 04:39:26

Norman Baines

If you are using "Show revisions in balloons" you may occasionally encounter an apparent Word bug that the font size for this is set to 1 pt (i.e. unreadable). You can fix this by following the above procedure and modifying the style called "Balloon text".

Thanks for this tip.

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