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: Randomly Resetting Numbering.

Randomly Resetting Numbering

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 28, 2017)

2

Nancy requested help in overcoming her frustrations with Word's automatic numbering feature. It seems that the numbers in some of the lists would periodically reset themselves or show other strange behavior problems.

The automatic numbering tool used in Word is one of the most poorly implemented and frustrating tools in the entire program. The problems are so bad that many people even advocate the complete abandonment of the feature, relying instead on manually numbering items in lists. (Believe it or not, that is exactly what is done when WordTips is first created—the numbered steps that are so often used are created manually rather than automatically.) This approach obviously involves quite a bit of additional typing and formatting.

Rather than type in numbers manually, you can also use the SEQ field to number your lists. This takes just a bit of time to set up, but the result can be lists that are semi-dynamic. (Meaning that list elements renumber themselves if you have to reorganize a list.) For more information on the SEQ field, refer to past issues of WordTips.

If you want to try using Word's automatic numbering, then it is best to also use styles to define the appearance of the numbered items that appear in your document. You can create different styles for different types of lists, as well as different styles for the first items in lists and the rest of the items. Styles, of course, provide many other advantages that are beneficial when creating documents. If you share your documents with others, defined styles also help insure that your document will appear more true to your original intent when viewed on another machine.

If you want to learn more about numbering and how to tame the wild beast, you should run (don't walk) to the Word MVP site and read through John McGhie's novella on the topic. Simply visit this page:

http://wordmvp.com/FAQs/Numbering/WordsNumberingExplained.htm

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1512) 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: Randomly Resetting Numbering.

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Forcing Input to Uppercase

If you type information into a workbook, you may want to make sure that what you type is always stored in uppercase. There is ...

Discover More

AutoFitting Tables

Need to adjust the width of a bunch of table columns according to what is in the columns? Word provides a tool to do this, ...

Discover More

Identifying Scatter Plot Points

Do you want to add data labels to the data points in an xy graph? Excel doesn't provide a way to get the desired labels, but ...

Discover More

The First and Last Word on Word! Bestselling For Dummies author Dan Gookin puts his usual fun and friendly candor back to work to show you how to navigate Word 2013. Spend more time working and less time trying to figure it all out! Check out Word 2013 For Dummies today!

More WordTips (menu)

Turning Off Automatic Bulleted Lists

As you are typing away on a document, you may notice that Word automatically formats bulleted lists (or what it thinks are ...

Discover More

Converting Automatic Numbering to Manual Numbering

The automatic numbering that Word lets you apply to paragraphs in your document can create some great looking content, but it ...

Discover More

Automatic Question Numbering

Want to use Word's numbering capabilities to help you number a series of questions? Here's how to accomplish the task as ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is nine minus 5?

2017-02-06 13:49:02

Jessica Davis

I use styles to propagate numbering and it works like a charm. You link the style to the numbering level and tell Word when to restart numbering. So all my numbered list start with an style that does get numbered, but rather tells Word to restart the counter. For example, I have style called "procedure" that I apply to the sentence that introduces the steps. This style tells Word to restart the numbering for all numbered styles that follow.


2017-02-04 12:38:51

Craig

A really nice Word site is Shauna Kelly's Word help website. She goes a step further and advises never to use the numbering toolbar button. She also has straight forward instructions for creating an outline numbered list using custom styles. Here's the link:

http://www.shaunakelly.com/word/numbering/numbering2003.html


This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the menu interface (Word 97, Word 2000, Word 2002, or Word 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.