Can't make outline numbered headings

Copper Contributor



i want to add numbers to my heading. However, when I try to modify my headings (Format > Numbering) I don't have the option to make outline numbered lists as I saw in many tutorials. I only have the option Numbering and Bullets.



Can someone help?




1 Reply



Hi Laurin,


You are on the right track. Yes, you want to assign the numbering through your styles. However, this needs to be done through the Define New List Style dialog, not the Define New MultiLevel List dialog, not the Modify Styles dialog. For styles attached this way, you also control the left indents through the Define New MultiLevel List dialog. Following the instructions linked below, you do get to defining the MultiLevel List through the New List Style process.


If you use automatic paragraph numbering or bullets read Shauna Kelly's directions on numbering and bullets. Start with How to create numbered headings or outline numbering in Word 2007 and Word 2010. For large documents you must follow these directions or you will lose your hair!
(Mac version:


After you have the needed paragraph style for each level, Shauna's instructions start with the Define New List Style dialog rather than the Define New MultiLevel List dialog. For the most robust numbering this is needed. It takes you to defining the MulitLevel List as a step in the process. Many times you can skip directly to the Define New MultiLevel List dialog, but you should know that this occasionally fails.




This may seem a bit convoluted at first, but it really is not. Just follow the steps. Shauna Kelly's instructions use the built-in heading styles, but you can use any existing paragraph styles including your custom styles. There are, however advantages to using the built-in heading styles when you create a Table of Contents. Here are some more advantages: Why Use Word's Built-In Heading Styles? by Shauna Kelly Note, you can modify these built-in styles to look exactly the way you want. This is the only known way to have list numbering that survives editing and does not turn into what is known as "spaghetti numbering."


You want to do this even if what you want is a single-level list if you want the most control over your list.

Videos on this


The basic idea is that the numbering is set using the Define MultiLevel List dialog with each numbering level being attached to an existing paragraph style. Once you have this set up, you should not use the buttons for numbering in the Ribbon but rather apply the appropriate style for that level.


You can save a document with this as a template for future documents if you want so you will not need to do this every time.


Styles in a multilevel list, when properly set up, can be a part of a [Quick] Style Set or applied by a macro using the Organizer method.


If you are going to use the built-in list styles, start with the ones that say Heading 1, Heading 2, etc. Do any modification to Indents or the appearance of the numbering in the Define New MultiLevel List Dialog.



A legacy alternative which provides very stable numbering is to use Sequence Fields. That was Word's original automatic numbering scheme and is very flexible, but is far from simple.