Cannot format multi level numbered lists. Restricted to what can be formatted

Copper Contributor

I am trying to create a multi level numbered list, but am restricted as to what I can format.  I am trying to create this list as follows:

1.  Text begins here and may have more than one paragraph within this level.

     Example of 2nd paragraph
     a.  Text begins here and also may have more than one paragraph.


What is happening is that I cannot change the distance between the number and the start of the text - in level 1 or level 2, and when I try to create a 2nd paragraph within either level, it either automatically creates another numbered paragraph or starts a new list below that paragraph without continuing from the previous numbering (Even if I select "continue numbering")


I used to be able to do this in versions I have used in the past, but this seems to have all changed.


Thanks for any help you can provide.

2 Replies


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: For styles attached this way, you also control the left indents through the Define New MultiLevel List dialog not the Ruler or the Modify Style dialog.


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.

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.

Grab your free troubleshooting guide at ... and here are *17 docx numbering templates* already done for you: --- How do you set up multilevel numbering in Word so it works perfectly first time ...
The most comprehensive way to create styles for bulleted or numbered lists is to use a list style (sometimes called a multi-level list style). A list style lets you set the format of list markers (bullets or numbers), including the font, size, color, and character--for each level of a list, up to
Need help with word numbering format 1.1 1.2 1.3 ? Learn how to apply hierarchical outline numbering for Microsoft Word Documents in a way that perfects the formatting of technical documentation and proposals. Also a life saver for thesis/school papers! Headings will have the format 1 Title, 1.1 ...
Tired of reconfiguring the built-in paragraph numbering schemes in the multilevel list dropdown on Word's Home tab? Make your own! In this half-hour webinar, I show you step-by-step how to define your own 9-level paragraph numbering schemes and save them where you can re-use them again and again!



Depending on how you created the list in the first place, you may have multiple single-level lists rather than just one multilevel list.


What you need is a multilevel list, properly defined. See the articles for which Charles has provided links.