Using (and configuring) Bullets & Numbers

If you’re anything like me, one of the things you really hate is having to move paragraphs around in a long pleading (like a set of discovery requests).  Fortunately, if you know your way around Microsoft Word’s Bullets & Numbers feature, at least you won’t have to renumber every paragraph by hand.

Using Bullets & Numbers’ pre-defined formats is very easy.  The easiest way is to use the buttons on the Formatting Toolbar in Word 2002-2003 or the top row of the Paragraph section of the Home tab in Word 2007-2010:




This gives you the basic, standard format. But what if you want some other format?

There are several to choose from in the Bullets & Numbers Gallery.  Because the steps differ somewhat between the non-ribbon and ribbon versions of Microsoft Word, we’ll split the tutorial here.

Word 2002-2003

To access the Gallery, go to Format, Bullets and Numbering:


You may, however, be a little frustrated with the out-of-the-box formats that indent the text after each paragraph number.  Or you may need to do something a little non-standard to suit a particular court’s (or attorney’s) requirements.

Here’s a little video on how to edit the default paragraph numbering styles in Word:

Tip: To see this in full-screen, click the button in the lower-right-hand corner of the video player.

Word 2007-2010

The Bullets & Numbering buttons in the ribbon-based versions of Microsoft Word are found in the Paragraph section of the Home tab. Each have a drop-down menu featuring the gallery of built-in choices (it will also show you ones you’ve used recently), as well as menu items for creating your own numbering scheme:


Library choices for bullets - Microsoft Word 2010


Single-Level Paragraph Numbers in Word 2010

Single-Level Paragraph Numbers

Multi-Level Paragraph Numbers in Word 2010

Multi-Level Paragraph Numbers

If none of the preset formats suit your needs, you can define a custom bullet or paragraph numbering scheme by picking the “Define New …” item from the appropriate menu above. Here’s a video showing how to insert basic bullets and numbering, as well as defining your own numbering style:

Tip: To see this in full-screen, click the button in the lower-right-hand corner of the video player.

So, what paragraph numbering challenges have you stumped? Let me know in the comments below!

About the Author

I spend an inordinate amount of my time playing with computers and attempting to explain technology to lawyers and law office staff. It's not always easy, but someone's got to do it.

Kevin Shannon

Why don’t you show how to do Pleading Paper creation? This is no longer a pre programmed option in Word 2007 and 2010.

    Deborah Savadra

    Kevin – Microsoft has some templates available for a couple of different formats (28-line and 25-line). Line numbering is still available from the Page Setup menu on the Page Layout tab, but the templates are probably a more reliable solution.

Matt Reed

How do you roll-out a set of pre-defined numbering styles to a group of users. I used to do this by attaching the numbering styles to headings, but I have read this is not the correct way to handle multi-level numbering in Word 2007-2010.


    Deborah Savadra

    Matt – It appears that, in the ribbon-based versions of Word, you can modify the numbering styles (like List Number, List Number 2, etc.) in a particular document and then, within the Manage Styles dialog (accessible via the drop-down arrow beneath Change Styles on the Home tab), export the revised Styles to the Normal.dotm global template. You could then distribute this revised template to all users, either individually or over the network (see below).

    Obviously, the explanation above glosses over a lot, so I’d have to do a video on it to really explain it very well. However, there’s some good information at The shared network location for all templates option sounds like a good solution for you.

Penny Altman

You didn’t explain how to save newly defined number lists. When you change the second line to flush left and double space between numbers 1 and 2, etc. how do you save that formating for future use

How to create a numbered Heading Style in Microsoft Word

[…] frankly, that I felt a little twinge of fear. Or loathing. I’ve had my share of run-ins with Bullets & Numbering. In my experience, it’s easy to get these things all screwed up. However, desperate as I was […]

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