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: Converting Automatic Numbering to Manual Numbering.

Converting Automatic Numbering to Manual Numbering

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated July 29, 2017)


Steve notes that Word's auto-numbering is not suitable for documents that are to be imported into page layout programs such as Adobe InDesign. He wonders if there is a quick way to replace auto-numbering with manual numbering, in the same way that you can convert field text to plain text.

The answer is yes, there is a quick way. Simply follow these steps:

  1. Open the document whose numbering you want to convert. (You may want to open a copy of the document so that you don't mess up the original document.)
  2. Press Alt+F11. Word displays the VBA Editor.
  3. Press Ctrl+G. This opens the Immediate window.
  4. Type the following in the Immediate window:
  5. ActiveDocument.Range.ListFormat.ConvertNumbersToText
  6. Press Enter.

That's it; all the auto-numbered lists are changed to manual numbering. There are a couple of gotchas related to this approach, however. First, it may appear that your numbered lists no longer line up properly. This is because any custom tab stops set for the lists are deleted and Word reverts to using the default tab stops. This shouldn't be a huge problem, as you are doing this conversion in preparation for importing the document to a page layout program. (The tab stops in that program should take precedence over any you have set in Word.)

The second gotcha is that if you applied the auto-numbered styles using lists, then the numbering isn't really gone. You can apply it again by simply selecting the paragraphs in the lists and pressing Ctrl+Q.

If you would rather not mess with the VBA Editor, then there is another approach you can try out—save your document in RTF format. Many page layout programs (such as InDesign) use a different filter for importing RTF files, with the result that the numbered lists are converted automatically to regular numbers.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (10247) 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: Converting Automatic Numbering to Manual 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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What is six more than 8?

2018-03-13 12:20:22

Michael Platl

we are struggling a lot with this issue and I hope you can help out.
We can't convert all numbering to text because we are loosing too much information of the document.
We found out that our web tool will interpret a white text in the heading correctly.

What we need now is a script which will check all automated numberings in the headlines and places the same number behind the text in white color.

Is this easy to do?

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