Microsoft Word makes creating bulleted and numbered lists in your documents easy. Whether you’re creating a bulleted list for a packing list for a trip to see your grandchildren or a numbered list for a recipe, you can make your documents look professional and organized in no time.

Use a bulleted list for lists where the order of items isn’t significant, and the same “bullet” character is used in front of each item. In contrast, use a numbered list for lists where the order of items is significant, and a sequential step number is used to indicate order.

You can create a list from existing paragraphs, or you can turn on the list feature and type the list as you go. Either way, you’re working with the Bullets button or the Numbering button on the Home tab:

  • Click the Bullets or the Numbering button to apply a default bullet or number, respectively. The default bullet is a solid black dot and the default numbering treatment uses standard 1., 2., 3., and so on.

  • Click the arrow to the right of either button to open a palette of additional choices.

If you go the palette route, here’s the drill for bullets or numbered lists:

  • Bullets: Pick one of the bullet characters on the palette. If you don’t find what you want, click Define New Bullet to set up a custom bullet.

  • Numbered lists: Choose from a variety of numeral styles, including Arabic (1, 2, 3) and Roman (I, II, III); or uppercase or lowercase Arabic and Roman letters (A, B, C; i, ii, iii). Clicking the Define New Number Format option opens a dialog box where you can set up your own number formats.


For each numbered list, Word automatically increments the number. It isn’t always perfect at guessing your wishes, though. For example, sometimes you may have a regular paragraph (not numbered) between two paragraphs that are consecutively numbered, or you may want to restart the numbering back at 1 when Word guesses that you want the numbering continued from the previous list.

To change between continuing the previous list and starting a new one, right-click the paragraph where you want the change to be made and then choose either Restart at 1 or Continue Numbering.