Insert numbered lists in Word 2010

The previous tutorial explained how to insert a bulleted list of items in a document; this tutorial focuses on adding numbered lists in Word 2010, and the settings you can customize and the available numbering schemes. Unlike regular bullet lists, a numbered list can easily get out of sequence, but Microsoft Word allows you to redefine the starting number, force a fresh start in counting, etc. Somewhat counter-intuitively, a numbered list can also use roman numerals (letters), or even letters of the alphabet to break up related pieces of information - this is why you may see these more generically called "ordered lists".


Add a numbered list to your document

Word 2010 allows you to create numbered lists in a couple of ways; the steps outlined below help you create such a list from scratch, while the next section explains how to make a numbered list out of existing lines of text, whether they come from Word or another text editor.

Tip: to insert a new line of text (or more than one!) inside a numbered list but without creating a new item, press Shift+Enter on your keyboard.

Convert lines of text into a numbered list

If your list comes from another program or document, paste it where you'd like to create an ordered list; otherwise, locate the lines you want to make into a numbered list. Then, select the text beginning at the first character of what will become the first list item, until the last line you want to add. Then, click on the "Numbering" button in the "Home" tab of the Word 2010 ribbon. (See above for further details!)

Tip: you can convert a regular (unordered) bullet list into a numbered list by selecting all (or some) of its items, and clicking on the "Numbering" button!

Customize the number format

Customize bullet list numbering scheme in Word 2010 Clicking on the "Numbering" button itself, as we did earlier, will either insert the default numbering scheme, or Word 2010 will use the numbers you last used. You can at any point use another numbering scheme (and we explain below how to change the numbering scheme of an existing list). Click on the dropdown menu arrow next to the "Numbering" button, and you'll have a few choices.

Switch to a different number format for an existing list

Simply select the items of an ordered list for which you want to change the number format; then, pick a new scheme under the "Numbering" dropdown, and it will be applied right away!

Create a custom list numbering scheme

But Microsoft Word also lets you customize your lists' numbering scheme further than the 8 standard options, by creating your own number format. Click on the dropdown arrow next to the "Numbering" button, and choose "Define New Number Format" at the bottom:
Configure list item numbering format settings

Tip: don't manually re-configure your numbering settings when adding a new list to your document. Click on the arrow next to the "Numbering" button and pick your custom list either from "Recently used number formats", or from the "Recently used number formats" thumbnails at the bottom of the menu.

Start a numbered list with a custom number

Depending on how your document formatting and/or how you add new numbered lists, Word 2010 may try to be helpful and automatically resume numbering sequentially based on the previous ordered list you created; while this may sometimes help, it often won't. Fortunately, Word allows you to change with which number to start ordering the list, and even force it to start counting as a new list. (And vice versa, Word 2010 lets you force it to resume counting from the last numbered list instead of starting over!)

To do so, click on the dropdown arrow next to the "Numbering" button, and select "Set numbering value" near the bottom of the menu; as soon as you do, a dialog will open, and allow to choose "Start new list" to reset the counter to "1", or "Continue from previous list".
Customize new list item numbering in Word 2010If you check the "Advance value (skip numbers)", Microsoft Word will automatically make the new list start with "2" more than the last number in the last list in the document. When you start a new list, change the number in the "Set value to" text counter field, and your new list can start with anything you want besides a "1"! (If you are using letters, you can make it start with sometimes other than "a".)

Remove (or hide) numbers from an ordered list

As mentioned earlier, you can hide the numbers from an ordered list, while keeping it "semantically" an ordered list, by choosing "None" as number format under the Numbering dropdown menu. To convert it into an unordered (bullet) list, just place your cursor inside the list, and click on the "Bullets" button (Word 2010 will automatically apply the change to the entire list!) Finally, to convert your numbered list into a simple set of paragraph, just press the "Numbering" button while your cursor's inside the list, and Word will remove its "list" formatting altogether.

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