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How to Continue a Numbered List Across Text Blocks in MS Word 2010

© 2011 Ugur Akinci

Imagine you have a numbered list in MS Word 2010 that continues across different text blocks. Word’s “natural reflex” is to start each list block from 1 even though you may want the step numbers continue as a single series.

For example:

(Click to enlarge image)

MS Word 2010 Numbered List Across Text Blocks 1

You can try doing the logical thing by selecting the second group of numbered steps, for example, and then:

(1) Click on the Numbered List ICON on the PARAGRAPH pod of the HOME tab to display the pop-up menu.

(2) Select the Set Numbering Value link at the bottom of the pop-up menu to display the Set Numeric Value dialog box:

MS Word 2010 Numbered List Across Text Blocks 2

When you select Continue From Previous List option button and click OK, you expect the step numbers (in the second group) change from 1, 2, and 3  to 4, 5, and 6 — correct?  But it doesn’t. That must be a bug in Word 2010 unfortunately.

So here is another solution:

(1) Select the group of steps that come BEFORE the group of steps that you’d like number consecutively.

(2) Select the FORMAT PAINTER tool:

MS Word 2010 Numbered List Across Text Blocks 3

(3) Drag the tool over the SECOND set of steps and bingo!  You’ve got them now all numbered consecutively.

(4) Repeat the same by selecting the SECOND group of steps, selecting the FORMAT PAINTER tool, and then dragging it over the THIRD group of steps.

NOTE: You can also double-click on the format painter and then drag it over both the second and third set of steps. Click back on the tool to release it.

You’re done! Now your text should look like this:

(Click to enlarge the image)

MS Word 2010 Numbered List Across Text Blocks 4

Here is another method:

(1) In the SECOND group of numbered items, RIGHT CLICK to display the following pop-up menu:

MS Word 2007-2010 Continue Numbering

(2) Select Continue Numbering and you’re done!

4 comments to How to Continue a Numbered List Across Text Blocks in MS Word 2010

  • Is it necessary to select ALL of the items in the second group of numbered steps? I would think it only necesary to select the first one (the one that will become step 4). The ones that follow will take their numbering cues from it, so you’ll get step 5 and step 6 quite naturally without having to select them. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

    • Ed, you’re correct in that if you select or place your cursor in the first line of the SECOND group of numbered items, that particular item’s number is incremented to follow the first group’s numbering scheme. But the other steps in the second group are not affected by that.

      However here is another variation on the theme: the “format brush” method works even if you place your cursor ANYWHERE within the first group of numbered items the formatting of which you’re trying to replicate. You don’t really need to select the whole (first) group. Best regards, Ugur

  • Martha

    Great idea to use Format Painter!! This had been driving me spare, but the Format Painter worked. Thankyou so much!

  • imajoebob

    Spectacular! I can only guess that you discovered the Format Paint technique as an unintended consequence of another action, but I like it. Not just because it works, but because nothing that MS tells you to try does.

    I’m constantly amazed at how every time MS “improves’ a product it just seems to make the simple things harder and harder.

    Thanks for sharing this.

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