Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 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: Compound List Formatting.

Compound List Formatting

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated April 2, 2015)

It is often quite handy to create lists of information that can be used in your documents. One sign of how popular (and common) lists are is Word's inclusion of the Numbering and Bullets tools on the formatting toolbar.

You may, however, want to create what I call a "compound format" for your lists. For instance, you may want the first word, phrase or sentence of each list item shown in bold, or in bold italics. This is very common when using list items to define terms, such as in a glossary. The term being defined is shown in bold type, followed by a period, and then followed by a definition in regular type.

The next time you have a need to create lists that use "compound formatting" of this type, try out the following steps. (These steps will only work in Word 2000 or later versions.)

  1. Position the insertion point where you want to start your list.
  2. Choose Paragraph from the Format menu. Word displays the Paragraph dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Paragraph dialog box.

  4. In the Special drop-down list, choose Hanging.
  5. In the By box to the right of the Special drop-down list, type a value that indicates what sort of hanging indent you want. If you don't really want a hanging indent, then enter the value .001. (It is important you do this, even if you don't want a hanging indent.)
  6. Click on OK to dismiss the Paragraph dialog box.
  7. Select the formatting you want applied to the word, phrase, or term. For instance, click on the Bold formatting tool.
  8. Type the word, phrase, or term. Terminate the word, phrase or term with a period, colon, semi-colon, exclamation mark, question mark, or dash.
  9. Turn off the formatting you turned on in step 6.
  10. Type the rest of your list item. For instance, type the definition for the word, phrase, or sentence you typed earlier. This typing should appear in your regular typeface.
  11. At the end of the item, press Enter.

Now, when you start typing again, the first word, phrase, or sentence of the next list item—everything up to a valid terminator (see step 7)—uses the formatting you set in step 6, and the rest of the list item uses regular type.

If you try these steps on your system and they do not work, then check this out:

  1. Choose AutoCorrect (or AutoCorrect Options) from the Tools menu. Word displays the AutoCorrect dialog box.
  2. Click on the AutoFormat As You Type tab. (See Figure 2.)
  3. Figure 2. The AutoFormat As You Type tab of the AutoCorrect dialog box.

  4. Make sure the Format Beginning of List Item Like the One Before It check box is selected.
  5. Click on OK.

If the check box noted in step 3 is not selected, the steps presented earlier in this tip will not work.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1565) applies to Microsoft Word 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Compound List Formatting.

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

Converting Strings to Numbers

When creating macros, you often need to convert a text string that contains numbers into actual numeric values. You do this ...

Discover More

Emoticons in Word

Like to add a smiley or two to your writing? Word makes it easy through creative use of the AutoCorrect feature.

Discover More

Checking for Either of Two Text Values

Using a formula to find information in a text value is easy. Using a formula to find either of two text values within a ...

Discover More

Create Custom Apps with VBA! Discover how to extend the capabilities of Office 2013 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Access) with VBA programming, using it for writing macros, automating Office applications, and creating custom applications. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2013 today!

More WordTips (menu)

Adjusting Space Before

If you need to adjust the space that appears before a paragraph, there are several ways you can approach the adjustment. Here ...

Discover More

Adding Drop-Shadows to Paragraphs

Drop shadows are a style of paragraph border used to enhance the visual impact of a paragraph. They are also a great way to ...

Discover More

Understanding Justification

Paragraphs can be aligned in four different ways. This tip examines those alignment methods.

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 four less than 6?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


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.