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: Underlining Tabs In Numbered Lists.

Underlining Tabs In Numbered Lists

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 1, 2014)


Hans wonders how he can underline the tab space between a number and the text in an automatic numbered list. He can underline the number, but he can't figure out how to underline the tab itself.

The short answer is that there is no way to underline that tab that is inserted in an automatic numbered list. The best solution is to skip using automatic lists and, instead, rely on styles. Create a style for your numbered lists and you can define exactly how the tab character should be treated—including using an underline leader, if desired.

Once the style is defined you can apply it to all your numbered list items, and then either use a manual numbering of the items (typing in the numbers yourself) or relying on the SEQ field to do the numbering for you. (How you use the SEQ field has been covered in other issues of WordTips.)

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (6776) 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: Underlining Tabs In 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. ...


Understanding Pattern Matching

Pattern matching is a type of searching you can do in Word that is very powerful. Despite its power, it remains rather ...

Discover More

WindowsTips 2016 Archive (Table of Contents)

WindowsTips is a weekly newsletter that provides tips on how to best use the Windows operating systems. At the ...

Discover More

WordTips: The Macros (Table of Contents)

Word includes a powerful macro programming language called Visual Basic for Applications. WordTips: The Macros can ...

Discover More

Comprehensive VBA Guide Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) is the language used for writing macros in all Office programs. This complete guide shows both professionals and novices how to master VBA in order to customize the entire Office suite for their needs. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2010 today!

More WordTips (menu)

Creating Thin Spaces

Thin spaces are a typographic device that allows you add a bit of space between elements of a document. There are no thin ...

Discover More

Replacing Quoted Text with Italics

If you have text surrounded by quotes in a document, you may want to remove the quote marks and make the text that was ...

Discover More

Adding a Box Around Selected Text

You can use a special field to put a box around text within a paragraph.

Discover More

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

View most recent newsletter.


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. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. 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 six more than 8?

2017-04-03 07:45:16


I've cracked this one in Word 2016 for Mac. After the bullet list item, manually add a space (you might have to use a non-breaking space), then a tab. You will be able to underline both of these so that the underlining fits smoothly with the underlining of the list item, and control the length of the underline.

Using styles won't work, unfortunately, if you want generate an automatically numbered list of figures and/or tables, and I imagine for some other functions that rely on the built-in "Heading" styles.

2015-08-27 11:47:43

Tom Vanderbauwhede

Dear Allen,

It can be done as follows:
Use "Follow number with nothing" instead of tab or space between the numbering and the heading tekst. Add the space in your number formatting. Apply Underline on both number formatting and heading style.

Best regards,

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

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.