How do I renumber sections in Word?

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by Susan Harkins in Software on May 7, 2018, 11:10 AM PDT

How to number headings in a Word 2016 document

Adding numbered headings to a Word document doesn't have to cause nightmares if you use this simple technique.

A request for numbering headings in a new document doesnt have to elicit terrorit only sounds ghoulish. If youre good with styles, you might consider a custom numbered list style, but thats too much work. Instead, use Words built-in heading styles for a painless process. My best advice is to get the numbering scheme in place before you create the document. Trying to number headings in an existing document really can cause nightmares!

Well work with the existing heading styles. When applying this technique to your own documents, you can modify the heading styles to reflect the properties you needyoure not stuck with the default settings. If, however, the built-in heading styles are already in use because youre working with an existing document, youll have to create new styles. Avoid this route when possible. Well be changing properties for the numbering scheme and not the actual heading styles.

SEE: 10 all-purpose keyboard shortcuts to boost your Word efficiency (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

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Im using Word 2016 (desktop) on a Windows 10 64-bit system, but this technique will work in earlier versions. 365s browser edition displays existing numbered lists and allows you to set basic settings. However, you dont have access to advanced settings in the browser. You wont need a demonstration file to follow along.

Add a numbering scheme to the heading style

The easiest way to implement a numbering scheme for headings is to add one to a heading style. To illustrate, well modify Heading 1 by adding a numbering scheme. First, right-click Heading 1 in the Styles gallery (in the Styles group on the Home tab). Then, choose Modify as shown in Figure A to launch the Modify Style dialog. If you thumb through the default properties, youll not find a numbering scheme (Figure B). Click the Format button and choose Numbering as shown in Figure B. If necessary, click the Numbering tab. Choose the predefined scheme thats the best match for what you want (Figure C).

Figure A

Modify Heading 1.

Figure B

Choose Numbering from the Format button.

Figure C

Choose a predefined numbering scheme.

At this point, you could click OK and start your document. But, lets modify the scheme instead. Click the Define New Number Format button. In the resulting dialog, click the Font button and choose Chiller from the Font list and click OK (only once). Click inside the Number format controlto the left of the example characterand enter Heading, as shown in Figure D. Click OK twice. If you check the properties now (Figure B), youll find a numbering scheme. Click OK once more to return to the document. Heading 1 in the Styles Quick Gallery displays the new numbering scheme.

Figure D

Modify that scheme.

Put it to work

Adding a numbering scheme to the Heading 1 style was easier than you might have expected. Now, its time to see how it works. Enter a simple line of text and apply Heading 1, as shown in Figure E. Then, add a bit of random text using Normal.

Figure E

Apply Heading 1 to some heading text.

Add a second heading and apply Heading 1, as shown in Figure F. Word knows to continue the numbering scheme with the new heading and displays Heading II instead of Heading I. You can add as many numbered headings as you like. Word will keep up, as long as you apply Heading 1.

Figure F

Enter new headings and apply Heading 1 to continue the numbering scheme.

Starting a new list

You might want to use the same numbering scheme with a separate set of headings within the same document. Fortunately, doing so is simple:

  1. Add a new header and apply Heading 1.
  2. Right-click the number and choose Restart at 1 from the resulting submenu (Figure G). As you can see in Figure H, Word retains the number for the original list and restarts it for the new list.

Figure G

Restart the numbering for a new list.

Figure H

Word restarts the numbering.

This simple technique makes quick work of a single-level numbered list and accommodates multiple lists within the same document. However, it doesnt work with multilevel lists. If you must work with an existing document, modify the heading style as shown above. Then, select each heading and apply the heading style that you modified by adding a numbering scheme. As I mentioned, this isnt possible if the existing document already employs the heading style. But if you face numbering headings in a document, you know youve got the request coveredand you wont lose a minutes composure. Just tell them, Yes, I can do that.

Send me your question about Office

I answer readers questions when I can, but theres no guarantee. Dont send files unless requested; initial requests for help that arrive with attached files will be deleted unread. You can send screenshots of your data to help clarify your question. When contacting me, be as specific as possible. For example, Please troubleshoot my workbook and fix whats wrong probably wont get a response, but Can you tell me why this formula isnt returning the expected results? might. Please mention the app and version that youre using. Im not reimbursed by TechRepublic for my time or expertise when helping readers, nor do I ask for a fee from readers I help. You can contact me at .

Also see:

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  • How to control spacing and alignment in a numbered list in Microsoft Word (TechRepublic)
  • How to use Excels Data Model to turn related data into meaningful information (TechRepublic)
  • 5 ways to modify and customize styles in Microsoft Word (TechRepublic)Susan HarkinsPublished: May 7, 2018, 11:10 AM PDT Modified: May 6, 2018, 12:23 PM PDT  See more Software

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