1. Select the text that you want to number (this can be a section of text or the whole document).
2. Select the Home tab.
3. Click the multilevel numbering icon in the Paragraph group.
4. You can either select an existing layout from the list to use as a starting point, or you can create a new numbering system from scratch. As you hover over each thumbnail image, Word provides a larger image of the numbering system.
5. Choose Define New Multilevel List to display the control dialog.
The dialog box can be broken down as follows:
Click level to modify
In the top left is a list of levels. As you select each level, the settings in the rest of the dialog box changes.
Level 1 is the highest level, i.e. the main headings such as chapter or section titles.
Level 2 is subordinate to level 1.
Level 3 is subordinate to level 2.
Enter formatting for number
This is where the level number is constructed. If you include a previous level number, it will be displayed with a grey background, as will the number for the current level.
Type anything you wish to put in between the numbers such as dots, dashes, brackets etc.
Clear any text in the ‘Enter formatting for this number’ box.
Include level number from
When creating a subordinate level (or child level), you can first specify the level number of the parent.
For example, for section 3.2
Number style for this level
Each level can have its own number style. It may be a standalone style, e.g. 1, 2, 3 or a, b, c or continue on from a higher level, e.g. 1.1.1 or 1.a.i.
Set the font formatting for the selected level, if you want.
What position from the left margin do you want items for each level of numbering. For example, level 1 items may be 0cm from the left margin, level 2, 1cm from the left margin and level 3, 2cm from the left margin.
Here’s what they mean:
6. Click OK to save all the settings and close the dialog box.
The text you selected in step 1 now looks like this.
The next part is where the magic happens ...
3. How to Apply Multilevel Numbering
Once you have created your numbering system:
1. Position the cursor at the beginning of a line.
2. Press the TAB key to move the text down a level (demote).
3. Press the SHIFT and TAB keys together to move the text up a level (promote).
If you prefer, you can also click the indent icon to demote and the outdent icon to promote between levels.
4. How to Change Multilevel Settings
Once you have created your numbering system:
1. Reselect all text that is using the multilevel numbering.
2. Click the multilevel numbering icon and select Define New Multilevel List (yes, you choose this option even if you are modifying an existing multilevel list).
The original settings that you defined are redisplayed.
3. In the top-left box select the level that you wish to change, then change your settings.
4. Repeat for the other settings.
5. Click OK to save the settings. Your numbered list should now reflect your new settings.
5. Linking Multilevel Numbering to Styles
Each level of a multilevel numbering system can be linked to a style. This means that as you apply styles throughout the document, the numbering is applied appropriately and automatically. You can either use the built-in Heading 1, Heading 2, Heading 3 styles or use your own custom styles.
1. In the Numbering dialog box, click the MORE button in the bottom-left corner to expand the dialog box.
2. Select level to modify in the top-left box.
3. Open the Link level to style drop-down list and choose the style you wish to connect to the numbering level.
4. Click OK.
5. In the document, apply the Heading 1, Heading 2, Heading 3 styles where needed.
It’s a good idea to create a body text style and apply that where appropriate, so that the body text does not inadvertently get caught up in the multi-level numbering.
6. Select the whole document (or the portion of the document where you want to apply your numbered sections).
7. Click the icon in the Paragraph group (Home tab).
8. Select your custom numbering style from the gallery. The thumbnail image should show the linked styles.
6. How to Use Styles to Set Number Levels
1. Select all the text that you wish to apply the same number level to. Alternatively, if you wish to go line by line, you can place the cursor anywhere in a line of text.
2. In the Styles gallery, click the style that corresponds to the number level you wish to apply. For example, to apply the top level numbering click Heading 1 and for the third level numbering click Heading 3 (assuming those are the styles you assigned).
The numbering and all the numbering settings will be applied to the selected text or the paragraph in which the cursor was positioned.
And that, my friend, is how you do multilevel numbering in Word with no loose ends.
7. Watch the video (over the shoulder demo)
8. What next?
ACTION ITEM: Before we close out this post I want to give you one little action item! Comment below with ONE thing you learned from this post and how you're going to put it into ACTION. Share your successes and drop any questions you have below.
Enjoy the rest of your day!
Jason loves to simplify the hard stuff, cut the fluff and share what actually works. Things that make a difference. Things that slash hours from your daily work tasks. He runs a software training business in Queensland, Australia, lives on the Gold Coast with his wife and 4 kids and often talks about himself in the third person!