Change the look of your bulleted or numbered lists in Word

Applies to
Microsoft Office Word 2003
Microsoft Word 2000 and 2002

Do you ever feel constrained by the look of your lists? For example, have you tried to get items in a list spaced exactly the way you want, without success? And wouldn't you like your lists to be easier to scan and maybe even more visually appealing? Well, you can, and here's how.

Step 1: Customize the line spacing for your list

An important thing to keep in mind when formatting lists: Paragraph styles are of paramount importance. This is because in Word, each item in a list as a separate paragraph. To see this, open a document that contains a list, click the Show/Hide button Button image on the Standard toolbar, and notice the paragraph markers at the end of each list item.

To create a list with custom line spacing between the list items, or to customize spacing above or below the list, first create a new paragraph style that specifies the spacing you want. For this example, let's say you want your list to have 12-point spacing before and after each item.

Create a new paragraph style for your list

  1. On the Format menu, click Styles and Formatting.
  2. In the Styles and Formatting task pane, click the New Style button.
  3. In the New Style dialog box, under Properties, type a name (one you will recognize later) in the Name box.
  4. For Style type, click Paragraph.

 Note   You might want to click List for Style type, but don't be tempted. If you choose List, you will not be able to format the paragraph to get the spacing options you want.

  1. If you want, you can change the settings for Style based on and Style for following paragraph.
  2. In the lower-left corner, click the Format button, and then click Paragraph.
  3. In the Paragraph dialog box, in the Spacing section, enter 12 pt in the Before and After boxes (remember that each list item is a paragraph).
  4. Do one of the following:
    • If you want the same amount of space above and below the list, select the Don't add space between paragraphs of the same style check box.
    • If you want the same amount of space above and below the list and between each item in the list, clear the Don't add space between paragraphs of the same style check box.
    • If you want to control the amount of space above and below the list and specify a different amount of space between each item in the list, you need to create separate styles for the first item in the list, the middle item or items in the list, and the last item in the list.
  5. Click OK to close the Paragraph dialog box, but leave the New Style dialog box open so that you can add custom formatting.

Step 2: Add custom formatting

You can modify your new style to include bullets or numbers. To further customize the look of a list, you can format your bulleted and numbered lists with interesting characters and colors. Why use boring bullets when you can use colorful picture bullets?

Custom eighth note list bullets

For example, you can add pizzazz to your phone list by using a telephone symbol or jazz up your playlist with a musical eighth note symbol. Or if you're creating a numbered list, you can specify the number font and color that you want.

Modify the paragraph style for your list

  1. With the New Style dialog box still open, click the Format button again, and then click Numbering.
  2. In the Bullets and Numbering dialog box, select the tab you want, depending on whether your list is bulleted or numbered. For this example, click the Bulleted tab.
  3. Click any of the styles in the bullet gallery, and then click Customize.

In the Customize Bulleted List dialog box, you can specify the bullet indentation, the text position, and the bullet character.

  1. For this example, click the Character button.
  2. In the Font list, click ZapfChancery, click the eighth note symbol, and then click OK.
  3. Back in the Customize Bulleted List dialog box, click Font, and change the font color and size of the bullet character.

 Note   To change the font that you use for the text in your list, in the New Style dialog box, click Format, and then click Font.

Your new styles are now available for you to use in this document. If you want to use your styles in other documents, be sure to add the styles to the template that is attached to the current document by selecting the Add to template check box and then clicking OK.

 Note   Whenever you select a new bullet symbol, it is automatically added to the bullet gallery in place of the one you selected before you clicked Customize in the Bullets and Numbering dialog box. However, you can revert to the default bullet by clicking the preview box in the Bullets and Numbering dialog box and then clicking Reset.

Step 3: Use your new styles when you make a list

You can use your new styles to start a new list or to change an existing list. Your new styles are available for you to use in the Styles and Formatting task pane.

 Tip   If you don't see the Styles and Formatting task pane, click Styles and Formatting on the Format menu.

Start a new list

  • In your document, click where you want to start your list, and then click the style name in the Styles and Formatting task pane.

Change an existing list

  • Select all of the items in the list that you want to change, and then click the style name in the Styles and Formatting task pane.
 
 
Applies to:
Word 2003