Control Word's List-Making Feature


Q. I am not a big fan of how Word handles lists—whether they’re numbered, alphabetized or marked with bullets. Too often, Word assumes what I want, and more frequently than not, it assumes wrong and I have to delete the entire list and start from scratch. But there are times I really do want Word to format a list for me. Is there a way to get Word to do the job right from the get-go?

A. Yes, but only if you turn off Word’s automatic list-making feature. To do that, click on Format , AutoFormat . I know it seems counterintuitive, but make sure AutoFormat now is checked.

Then click on Options , which brings up the AutoCorrect screen. Click on the AutoFormat As You Type tab, evoking the screen below left.

Under the section Apply as you type , uncheck the Automatic bulleted lists and the Automatic numbered lists . Removal of those checks will stop Word from assuming everything that looks like a list is a list and thus is a target for automatic formatting.

Now, each time you really do want a list, type it, being careful to press Enter at the end of each item. If an item runs more than one line, let the line wrap automatically and then press Enter when you’ve completed the entry. When you’ve added all your items, highlight them and click on Format, Bullets and Numbering , bringing up the screen below right.


Choose how you want to format the list by clicking on the appropriate model and thumb your nose at Word.


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