Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Turning Off Automatic Numbered Lists.

Turning Off Automatic Numbered Lists

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated September 27, 2014)

One of the ways in which Word tries to help you create documents faster is by automatically applying formatting to your document, based on what you type. One incarnation of this feature is seen when Word creates automatic numbered lists for you. When you enter some text that Word thinks should be a numbered list, and then press Enter, Word formats the paragraph with a hanging indent and places an appropriate number at the beginning of it. In addition, Word assumes the next paragraph will be part of the same numbered list.

For instance, if you type a number or letter, a period, and then the Space Bar or the Tab key, and then type your text, when you press Enter, Word formats the paragraph as a numbered list. If you didn't want the paragraph to be a numbered list item, you can cancel the formatting done by Word by immediately pressing Ctrl+Z after the automatic formatting is applied. If the automatic formatting bothers you a lot, you can follow these steps:

  1. Choose AutoCorrect from the Tools menu. (In Word 2002 or Word 2003 choose AutoCorrect Options from the Tools menu.) Word displays the AutoCorrect dialog box.
  2. Make sure the AutoFormat As You Type tab is selected. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The AutoFormat As You Type tab of the AutoCorrect dialog box.

  4. Clear the Automatic Numbered Lists check box.
  5. Click on OK.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (67) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Turning Off Automatic Numbered Lists.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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