Microsoft Word 2007: Numbered Headings Done Right

In my previous post I only briefly talked about numbering your headings. Well, today I discovered how to do them the right way. Interested? Continue reading after the jump. I was going to start with an introduction to Lists, but this needs a lot of research (about 5 minutes) so I will just reference Wikipedia (which took 2 seconds):

"The Bullets and Numbering system has been significantly overhauled for Office 2007, which is intended to reduce the severity of these problems." -Microsoft Word, Wikipedia

I'm not pretty sure if you can modify multi level lists prior to 2007 because this is the first time I'm doing this. But anyway, in Word 2007 you have the ability to define new multi level lists styles which is VERY useful for numbering your headings.

Let us begin by writing some chapter and section titles. As I told you yesterday, we will first write our document and then style it. So add some old fashion Lorem Ipsum text after each title. If you are lazy like me, you will probably find this tool handy: Lorem Ipsum Generator. Or, use Word's built-in command "=lorem(X)" where X is the number of paragraphs; i.e. =lorem(2). Thank you Geri for this tip.

Example without styles

Once you are done with your titles, style them with the appropriate heading style. Forget about setting the numbering in the heading style. We will number them in a better way.

Example with Heading styles

Now, select your first heading and click on the "Multilevel List" in the "Home" tab and choose "Define New Multilevel List....".

Define New Multilevel List

On the bottom left of the "Define new Multilevel list" window click on the "More >>" button. This is what you will see:

Multilevel List Dialog

Here we can select a level of the list (in the top left) and change its style.

Let's say you want each Heading 1 to include "Chapter". Simply enter "Chapter" before the number in the "Enter formatting for number:" text field. I personally don't like spacing, so I set both "Aligned at:" and "Text indent at:" to 0 cm. Finally, I prefer a single space instead of a tab before my title, so I set "Follow number with:" to Space.

But aside from styling your list, the important step is to link this style to your header. You do this by selecting "Heading 1" to the "Link level to style:" drop down list.

Link level to style

For levels other than 1, you can include the number of its parent level. This is very useful when you want sub sections to look like "1.2.1 Title". Simply edit those levels and select the level you want in the "Include level number from:". Don't forget to link each level to the appropriate headings style.

Include Level Number

You should now have each heading numbered correctly!

After Numbering

But what about appendices? What if you want Appendix A, Appendix B etc? Well, we know that appendices appear in the Table of Contents as the same level as Heading 1, so clearly they have to be in the first level of the list.

So, one way of setting this is by applying the Heading 1 style to each. Then, select your first appendix title and define a new style. The settings of the current active list style are already set, so you don't need to set everything again. This time you have the option to select how to apply these changes. Choose "This point forward" in the "Apply changes to:" drop down list and then make your changes. Set, for instance, the "Enter formatting for number:" to Appendix and the "Number style for this level:" to "A,B,C,..." and then the "Start at:" to "A".

Appendix Multilevel List Style

While this will do the trick, you have to manually set the new style. I hate manuals! So let's make them autos.

Create a new style by opening the "Styles" windows and clicking "New Style". Name it "Appendix", set the "Style type:" to "Linked (paragraph and character)" and "Style for following paragraph:" to "Normal".

Now, this is where the magic happens: set the "Style based on:" to "Heading 1" and click "OK". This will link this style with Heading 1, which means two things: a) any changes in Heading 1 will be set to Appendix as well and b) the title of this heading will be set to the same level of Heading 1 in Table of Contents.

Appendix Style

If you now apply the Appendix style to your titles, you will see that "Chapter" appears before them. To set this to "Appendix", select your title and define a new multi level list. Next, select the fourth level and set the "Link level to style:" to "Appendix". Make any changes to the style you want (like setting "Appendix") and your done!


When you will generate your Table of Contents, you'll see that Appendices are at the same level as Heading 1. If you change the Appendix style to be based on Heading 2, this will be visible to the Table of Contents as well.

Table of Contents