Getting Automatic Paragraph Numbering Back on Track

By Deborah Savadra

Word’s automatic paragraph numbering feature is a great time-saver when it works. But, once a numbering sequence gets messed up, it seems impossible to get it back on track. Here are a few tricks for making your automatic paragraph numbering behave.

Use the Multi-Level Option for More Flexibility

If you’re not already familiar with Microsoft Word’s paragraph numbering feature, it’s located on the Home tab in the Paragraph section.

  • The left-most button is for bullets.
  • The one in the middle is for single-level numbering.
  • The one on the right is for multi-level numbering.

Even if I’m numbering just one level of paragraph, I always use the multi-level style instead of single-level numbering. Multi-level gives me more options for formatting. And it even allows me to save my own numbering schemes for future use.

Three Ways Paragraph Numbering Goes Off Track

I typically see three problems with paragraph numbering getting off track, all of which can be cured with a simple right-click.

1. Most people really don’t like Word’s default indentation for automatic numbering. Fixing it is simple: Just right-click on one of the numbers and choose Adjust List Indents. Depending on whether you’re using single-level or multi-level numbering, you’ll get a dialog box that’ll allow you to set the indentation for the number itself and the following text. If you’re using the multi-level paragraph numbering style, you can also set the alignment of the number to right versus left if that’s what you prefer.

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