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: Sequentially Numbering Elements in Your Document.

Sequentially Numbering Elements in Your Document

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated May 16, 2015)


Word allows you to automatically number items in your document. For instance, you can automatically number figures, tables, or illustrations. If you later reorder these items, Word automatically updates the numbers so they are in order. To sequentially number items in your text, follow these steps:

  1. Position the insertion point where you want the sequential number to appear. For instance, this would be in the caption for the table or figure.
  2. Press Ctrl+F9 to insert field brackets. Make sure the insertion point stays between the brackets.
  3. Type "seq " followed by the name of the element. This name is up to you, but should be the same for each item in this sequence. For instance, you could type "seq figures" or "seq tables" (without the quote marks).
  4. Press F9 to update the field information. Word replaces the field with the next number in the sequence you have specified.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (92) 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: Sequentially Numbering Elements in Your Document.

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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What is five less than 8?

2018-01-11 13:49:58


Hello! I already have automatic numbering set up (to change paragraph numbers automatically when paragraphs are moved within a document) but I would also like to have automatic lettering within the same document that is independent from the numbering. Example, paragraph 1 references Exhibit A, paragraph 2 references Exhibit B, so on and so forth. Currently using the above referenced method, the auto numbering lettering then follows as if the letters are a representation of the corresponding number (if that makes sense), ex: 1 B 3 C 5 D. How do I have the number sequencing independent from the letter sequence? Thank you in advance!

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