Ins and outs of bullets and numbering in Word

Applies to
Microsoft Office Word 2003
Microsoft Word 97, 2000, and 2002

Collage of bullet and numbering images

Bulleted or numbered lists make your documents more readable and visually interesting. Word has some automated features that simplify list-making — but what about when you want to customize line spacing between items in a list, or when you want to indent bullets in a nonstandard way?

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In-depth information
Knowledge Base articles
Help topics and articles

Lightbulb Did you know...?

Here are some interesting facts that might help you to better understand bullets and numbering. Sometimes just knowing a basic fact or two helps make the big picture a little clearer — like a light bulb switching on.

  • In Word, what looks like an item in a list is really a paragraph preceded by a bullet or a number.
  • The best way to end a list is to click either Body Text or Normal in the Styles box on the Formatting toolbar.
  • You are not restricted to using the built-in bullet and number choices. You can customize the color, font, and picture used for bullet and number styles.
  • If you want to save a list's bullet or numbering formatting (using Word 2002 or Word 2003), create a custom list style.
  • If you want to add a paragraph between items in a bulleted or numbered list, turn off bullets or numbering, type the text you want, and then turn bullets or numbering back on.

Most Valuable Professional icon In-depth information

Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs) are acknowledged by their peers and also by Microsoft for their technical expertise and active participation in Microsoft online communities. Here, the Word MVPs weigh in on bullets and numbering:

Word's numbering explained by MVP John McGhie

This comprehensive article provides information about all kinds of numbering in Word, including list numbering. Check out the Multiple kinds of numbering section, which covers list numbering and simple lists. (Applies to Word 2003, 2002, 2000, and 97)

How to restart style-based numbering by MVP Margaret Aldis

This article covers the different ways you can restart numbering, and the advantages and disadvantages of each method.

Use a bulleted paragraph style for bullets by MVP Shauna Kelly

Find out how to work with bulleted lists in which the lower levels of bullets are indented. You'll learn how to use and modify built-in Word List Bullet styles — and some practices to avoid.

How to control bullets in Microsoft Word by MVP Shauna Kelly

This article explains the importance of using the List Bullet styles to manage bulleted lists. If you find yourself re-applying bullets over and over to get them to look right, this article is for you.

How to create numbered headings or outline numbering in your Microsoft Word document by MVP Shauna Kelly

Shauna Kelly explains the basics of setting up outline numbering in Word by using heading styles.

Formatting applied to one paragraph affects the entire document by MVP Suzanne Barnhill

Learn how to prevent formatting changes from affecting your entire document. (Applies to Word 2002, 2000, and 97)

Nifty Numbering by MVP Cindy Meister

Cindy Meister's article includes information about how to create a reverse numbering sequence and how to right-align a list that uses the default automatic numbering feature in Word.

Books and a magnifying glass Knowledge Base articles

The following articles respond to customer requests and reported issues that relate to bulleted and numbered lists.

Large question mark Help topics and articles

Change the look of your lists in Word

Find out how to customize spacing in lists by creating new paragraph styles. Then, further customize your lists with interesting characters and colors. This article applies to multiple versions of Word.

Help topics for Microsoft Office Word 2003

The following Microsoft Office Word 2003 Help topics cover the basic tasks involved in creating, formatting, and modifying bulleted or numbered lists.

Create a list

About bulleted and numbered lists

Read an overview of bulleted and numbered lists, including outline numbered lists.

Add bullets or numbering

Create bulleted or numbered lists as you type, or add bullets or numbering to existing text.

Add numbering to items in paragraph text

Add numbers to items in the body text of a paragraph by using the LISTNUM field.

Add numbers to headings

Automatically number your headings with the numbering format that you choose by using built-in Word heading styles.

Create a multiple-level picture bullet list

Create a list with items at different levels rather than indented at one level, using a different picture bullet image to represent each level.

Create an outline numbered list

Create list items at different levels rather than indented at one level.

Create a new list style

Create your own style to apply similar alignment, number or bullet characters, and fonts to lists.

Modify a list

Add picture bullets or symbols to lists

Add a unique look to a list by using customized characters or pictures to represent list bullets.

Adjust spacing between a list bullet or number and the text

Learn how to tweak the spacing between a list bullet or number and the beginning of text.

Change the numbering sequence in lists

Restart the numbering in the middle of a numbered list, or sequentially number lists that are separated by nonnumbered text.

Combine lists into one list

Convert multiple lists into a single list. When you add one list to another, Word automatically formats the second list to match the formatting of the first list.

Convert bullets to numbers and vice versa

Convert a bulleted list to a numbered list (and vice versa) in a single click.

Include multiple outline numbers on a single line

Include more than one numbering level on a single line by using the LISTNUM field in an outline numbered list created with the "Article I" style.

Modify bulleted or numbered list formats

Change the formatting for a list. For example, you can use a unique symbol or picture bullet for a bulleted list, and you can customize the number style or punctuation for a numbered list.

Remove bullets or numbering

Remove an item from a bulleted or numbered list. Word automatically adjusts the number sequence of a numbered list when you remove an item.

Set list format options

Restore a customized list format to its original setting

Revert to using the default Word bullet and numbering schemes. When you modify one of the list formats that appear on the Bulleted, Numbered, or Outline Numbered tab of the Bullets and Numbering dialog box, the custom changes that you make appear in the list gallery preview.

Turn on or off automatic bulleted or numbered lists

Turn this setting off if you want to create a list by using your own formatting. Word automatically formats bulleted and numbered lists by default.

Troubleshoot lists

Troubleshoot bulleted and numbered lists

Get answers to some typical problems with bulleted and numbered lists.

Applies to:
Word 2003