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Bulletproof Paragraph Numbering, Part 1

Nearly every week, I get an email like this:

When using several different Styles in a document, I sometimes (TOO often) find that the formatting of a paragraph has reverted to an odd-size line or paragraph indent or the numbering doesn’t change back to 1, notwithstanding that I’ve selected “Restart list after …” in the Define new Multilevel list box. It seems that something is corrupted. Can you explain?

Or like this:

Hi! My biggest headache is paragraph numbering, I never know how to set it up to do it automatically and end up putting the paragraph numbers in manually. Also, how to get back to the main heading (e.g. no. 2, Communication & Procedures) then back to the sub-headings e.g. 2.1.

Which boils down to this:

Multilevel list numbering is my biggest frustration!

Even though I’ve included some paragraph numbering training in my basic Word course and have published articles elsewhere dealing with paragraph numbering specifically and various types of automatic numbering generally, it seems multi-level numbering is enough of an irritation to a sufficient number of people that I need to deal with this subject head-on.

Part of the problem with Microsoft Word’s paragraph numbering feature (single- or multi-level) is that it’s a twisted combination of Styles and Fields, so twisted it’s nearly impossible to separate them. Word has a lot of paragraph numbering Styles already built in, but following the advice of some genuine Microsoft Word experts (Ben SchorrJan Berinstein and the late Shauna Kelly), I’m going to show you how to create your own multi-level paragraph numbering List Styles you can save into your Normal (or other) template and use forever after.

The questions I’ve gotten are usually asking about one of three different types of multi-level numbering:

Inline multi-level numbering. This is paragraph numbering that looks like this:

word-2016-paranum-ex-1

Inline multi-level numbering with text. This paragraph numbering differs slightly from the above in that there is some text before and/or after the number which may or may not need to be included in a Table of Contents, like this:

word-2016-paranum-ex-2

Numbered headings. This numbering is embedded in headings that float above its related text, like so:

word-2016-paranum-ex-3

Given that we’re talking about three different types of multi-level paragraph numbering, I’ll deal with each type in a separate post. This post deals with the first type listed above, inline multi-level numbering.

(If you’ve never used Word’s built-in multi-level paragraph numbering and want a primer on how to use it, click here.)

But first, let’s talk about the basic methodology I’m going to use on all three types: creating your own list definitions to control the numbering. Because, let’s face it, the built-in ones are too hard for most people to control.

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How to Keep Obscure (but Useful) Word Commands in Easy Reach

Believe it or not, even with as many commands as are on the Microsoft Word Ribbon, there are some features that are nowhere to be found. Rather than dig through layers of dialog boxes or try to remember obscure shortcut keys, why not add a few essential (for you) commands to the Ribbon or Quick Access Toolbar? I’ll show you one example, but you can use this technique for any Word function.

Example Command: Adjust List Indents

Most legal users aren’t really happy with the default indentation of the paragraph numbering feature. Short of configuring your own paragraph numbering scheme, though, there doesn’t seem to be much of a way around it.

You can adjust the default List Paragraph Style’s indents on-the-fly by right-clicking on the paragraph number and choosing Adjust List Indents. But you’d have to know that feature’s there to use it.

How to get that in easy reach? Click here to find out –>

How one Legal Office Guru reader is using my SEQ autonumbering technique

Work smarter not harder

I’m always gratified when a solution I’ve come up with (and published) is helping people in the “real world” (as opposed to … what? ?). Sometimes, I find out about it when readers email me to tell me how they’re using a solution in their office. But occasionally, I see increased traffic “click over” from another site and follow the referring link to see what’s going on.

It was the latter scenario that brought this blog post to my attention:

http:\www.remedialactionlawblog.com\making-numbering-interrogatories-and-requests-for-productionadmission-easy-with-video\

I especially liked three things about this person’s deployment of my “how to autonumber interrogatories using the SEQ field” technique:

  • It updates the technique for Word 2013 users (the original tutorial was published in 2012);
  • The blogger has deployed this throughout his firm using a customized Building Blocks file; and
  • It has video!

So head on over to Remedial Action Law to check it out!

(Post image: © Iqoncept | Dreamstime.comWork Smarter Not Harder Arrow Target Goal Effective Efficient Pr Photo)

How to create numbered headings using Styles

I seem to make my best discoveries about Microsoft Office when I’m annoyed. (See my last post, for example.) It’s that kind of annoyance that says, “There’s got to be a better way to do this.” For some reason or another, this time it was paragraph numbering. But not the normal kind where you have the paragraph number indented about half an inch on the same line with the start of the paragraph. The document I was working on (a will) had the paragraph number floating centered above the paragraph. While I was drafting the document, I just knew the attorney I was working for would be moving paragraphs all over the place, and I didn’t want to stop to renumber them when he did.

blawgworld-600

This post won BlawgWorld’s Pick of the Week Award 3/10/14!
Click the image above for more details.

I remembered one of the paralegals I work with telling me that it was possible to embed numbers in Styles. So I went nosing around in Styles, looking to modify my Heading 1 so that it had an automatically incrementing Arabic numeral and a period, like so:

Click here to see what I mean …

Reader Question: How to embed the current paragraph number in your text

woman holding question mark

One reader who works in insurance defense law (a woman after my own heart — so do I) asked me this question recently:

In a case where I am automatically numbering the beginning of each paragraph (sometimes up to 100)…and then have to refer to the same paragraph number in the text (e.g., 1. Deny the allegations contained in paragraph “1”), how can I get the number in the text to match the corresponding number of each specific paragraph so that if I have to delete a paragraph, I will not have to go into every paragraph to change the text to say responding to paragraph”2″ to correspond with the actual numbered paragraph? I know it has something to do with using fields in the text.

Again, a woman after my own heart. She’s trying to automate something to minimize the amount of repetitive editing she’ll have to do as the document changes. I like people who think ahead like that.

And she’s right: it does have “something to do with fields in the text.” But which one is appropriate here? The answer may surprise you … and you might find a use for it in your own documents, too.

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