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: Adding Paragraph Numbering.

Adding Paragraph Numbering

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 28, 2017)

Patricia would like to add paragraph numbers to her document in the same way that it is possible to add line numbers, so that the paragraph numbers are in the margin of the document. She doesn't want to make all the paragraphs part of a numbered list, as that would get rid of existing numbered lists and bulleted lists in the document.

Word has no built-in capability to number paragraphs in the same way that it can number lines. The only way to do it is to create a numbered list out of each paragraph (and use a negative indent for the first line of each paragraph), but that runs into the very problem Patricia said she wanted to avoid—the ruination of other lists already in the paragraph. It makes sense, really; if you have text that is formatted as a numbered list for content purposes, then you can't apply a separate numbered list to the paragraph for Patricia's purposes.

The only potential workaround we've been able to discover is to add a small text box anchored to the beginning of each paragraph. Format the text box so that it is positioned within the left margin, and then add a manual number inside each text box. As paragraphs move, the anchored text box should move with it, so that the number remains where it should. You could also try using a SEQ field in the text boxes, but we've received some reports that the automatic numbering of the SEQ field won't work properly from one text box to another.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (8652) 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: Adding Paragraph 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. ...

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