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: Following a Number with Different Characters.

Following a Number with Different Characters

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated April 23, 2016)

Word provides a good deal of flexibility in how you set up numbered lists. By default, the numbers that appear in a numbered list are followed by a period. If you would like to change the character that follows the number to something other than a period, it is best to use a style for the numbered paragraphs (or headings). Follow these steps if you are using Word 2002 or Word 2003:

  1. Choose Styles and Formatting from the Format menu. Word displays the Styles and Formatting task pane at the right side of your document.
  2. In the list of styles, hover the mouse pointer over the style whose numbering format you want to change. A down-arrow appears at the right side of the style name.
  3. Click the down arrow and choose Modify. Word displays the Modify Style dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Modify Style dialog box.

  5. Click the Format button and choose Numbering. Word displays the Bullets and Numbering dialog box.
  6. Click either the Numbered (See Figure 2.) or Outline Numbered tabs, depending on what type of numbering you want this style to handle.
  7. Figure 2. The Numbered tab of the Bullets and Numbering dialog box.

  8. Choose a numbering style from those available. You should click the one that is closest to what you want to accomplish.
  9. Click Customize. Word displays either the Customize Numbered List (See Figure 3.) or Customize Outline Numbered List dialog box.
  10. Figure 3. The Customize Numbered List dialog box.

  11. In the Number Format box, you see how the numbering will appear. You should see the first number of the series listed, followed by a period.
  12. Change the period to whatever you want to follow the number.
  13. Close all the dialog boxes.
  14. Use the style to format the paragraphs you want numbered with your customized format.

If you are using Word 97 or Word 2000, the steps are slightly different:

  1. Choose Style from the Format menu. Word displays the Style dialog box.
  2. In the list of styles, select the one whose numbering format you want to change.
  3. Click Modify. Word displays the Modify Style dialog box.
  4. Click the Format button and choose Numbering. Word displays the Bullets and Numbering dialog box.
  5. Click either the Numbered or Outline Numbered tabs, depending on what type of numbering you want this style to handle.
  6. Choose a numbering style from those available. You should click the one that is closest to what you want to accomplish.
  7. Click Customize. Word displays either the Customize Numbered List or Customize Outline Numbered List dialog box.
  8. In the Number Format box, you see how the numbering will appear. You should see the first number of the series listed, followed by a period.
  9. Change the period to whatever you want to follow the number.
  10. Close all the dialog boxes.
  11. Use the style to format the paragraphs you want numbered with your customized format.

Regardless of the version of Word you are using, there is a difference between the Customize Numbered List and Customize Outline Numbered List (See Figure 4.) dialog boxes (step 7). If you are formatting outline numbering, you can click the More button. When you do, you will see some additional options appear at the bottom of the dialog box. (These options, and the More button, are not available in the Customize Numbered List dialog box.)

Figure 4. The Customize Outline Numbered List dialog box.

One of the available options is called Follow Tab With, and there are three options: Tab Character, Space, or Nothing. This setting indicates what should come after the characters you've put in the Number Format box. You can select whatever is appropriate for your needs.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (7788) 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: Following a Number with Different Characters.

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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