How to use multilevel list numbering in Microsoft Word 2007


Several folks have written to me inquiring about this topic. I have to preface my article by saying that this latest version of MS Word is only slightly less confusing than it was in 2003. Having said that, it is possible to create multilevel lists painlessly in this version if you do it properly.

Word’s multilevel feature takes bulleted and numbered lists to the next level. Creating sublists or subpoints in a list is fairly easy in this version, which will make a lot of legal secretaries very happy I’m sure because that was always a huge gripe of theirs. One example of a multilevel list which most of you have seen is an outline where the first level uses Roman numerals and the next level uses capital letters. There are other uses as well, such as a multiple choice test that a teacher creates for her students.

You can apply multilevel bullets or numbering to your list at any time.

To Apply Multilevel List Numbering to Existing Text, follow the steps below:


Select the text where you would like to apply multilevel outline numbering.

Click on the Home tab.

In the Paragraph group, click Multilevel List.

The Multilevel dialog box will appear.


Select the Outline option of your choice. One choice would be the one that starts with arabic numbers and uses lower case letters for the subsequent level.

The bullets or numbers are now applied to your selected text.

You can promote and demote lines of text to adjust your list to your liking. Promoting text will indent it to the left (up a level) and demoting will indent the text to the right (down a level).

Of course, there are keyboard shortcuts that can be used to promote and demote to different levels and paragraphs within your outline.


ActionKeyboard Combination
Advance to next list itemEnter
Promote a list itemShift + Tab OR or Alt + Shift + Left Arrow
Demote a list itemTab OR Alt + Shift + Right Arrow
Demote to body textCTRL + Shift + N
Select list item aboveAlt + Shift + Up Arrow
Select list item belowAlt + Shift + Down Arrow

To promote and demote list items, you can also click on the Increase Indent and Decrease Indent Decrease icons on your toolbar.

About the Author

Carol Bratt

Carol holds A+, MCP, and MOS computer certifications and is the resident DCT Office expert. She trains the staffs of small law firms in the use of Microsoft Office applications and has authored many books covering Microsoft Office as well as written articles for Infopackets, TechnoLawyer, and Digital Harbor. For more Microsoft Office tips visit Carol's Corner Office or follow Carol on FaceBook and Twitter.

One Comment

  1. I am working with a multilevel list using just numbers (i.e 1, 1.1, 1.1.1, 1.1.1.1 etc.) This can get kind of “wordy” when you go beyond the 3rd or 4th level. I am trying to limit to no more than four levels, but find it necessary to list 3 or 4 items in what would be the “fifth” level. Is it acceptable to use just bullets or some other designation once you reach a level (in my case the 5th level) where document just no longer “looks” right if you continue with just the numbered levels?

    Need advide quick, please.

    Jerry