We recently created and modified numbered lists in Microsoft Word. Today, we are going to take that a step further by creating custom list numbers in Microsoft Word.
Custom list numbers can combine letters, words, and punctuation (e.g., A1, Step 1, A-1). We will also customize the style, such as the font, size, alignment, and color.
Plus, the Pro Tip at the end explains how to remove extra space between the number and the list item.
- How to Create Custom List Numbers
- Pro Tip: How to Remove Extra Space between List Numbers and List Items
What about Lists Ordered by Letters?
This tutorial refers to “list numbers” because Word organizes all ordered (hierarchical) list options in the Numbering Library. However, all the steps shown here also apply to lists organized by letters.
This tutorial is available as a YouTube video showing all the steps in real time.
Watch more than 200 other writing-related software tutorials on my YouTube channel.
The images below are from Word for Microsoft 365. These steps also apply to Word 2021, Word 2019, Word 2016, and Word 2013.
Are you on a Mac? Please visit “How to Create Custom List Numbers in Word for Mac.”
How to Create Custom List Numbers
- (Optional) Select an existing number in the list level you want to customize.
- Select the Home tab in the ribbon.
- Select the Numbering menu arrow in the Paragraph group.
- Select Define New Number Format from the drop-down menu.
- (Optional) Select a new style from the Number style menu in the Define New Number Format dialog box.
- Add letters, words, or punctuation before or after the number in the gray shading in the Number format text box. Do not delete or alter the number in the gray shading.
If you delete or alter the number in the gray shading, the automatic list numbering will stop functioning.
- (Optional) Select the Font button.
7.a. Select a new (A) font, (B) font style, (C) size, (D) font color, (E) underlining style, and (F) underlining color in the Font dialog box.
7.b. Select the OK button.
- (Optional) Select Left, Centered, or Right from the Alignment menu.
- Select the OK button.
The list level you selected in step 1 should change to your new formatting.
Repeat steps 1 through 9 for existing list levels, as necessary.
Your new list number format will be automatically added to the Numbering Library (i.e., the drop-down menu for the Numbering button) and will be available in other documents.
If you want to remove a format from the Numbering Library, right-click it and then select Remove from the shortcut menu.
Pro Tip: How to Remove Extra Space between List Numbers and List Items
By default, Word inserts a tab between list numbers and list items. Sometimes this tab produces unwanted space when paired with custom list numbers. However, we can fix the problem by replacing the tab with a regular space.
- Select a number in the list level with the extra space.
- Right-click the selected list numbers and then select Adjust List Indents from the shortcut menu.
- Select Space in the Follow number with menu.
- Select the OK button.
The tab spaces should be replaced with regular spaces in your numbered list.
Updated May 27, 2023