How to Control Spacing & Alignment of Numbered List in Microsoft Word

53078 How to Control Spacing & Alignment of Numbered List in Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word provides several options for customizing the spacing and alignment of numbered lists. Properly formatting numbered lists is important for consistency, readability, and an overall professional look in documents. This article covers techniques in Word to control:

  • Line spacing in lists
  • Spacing between list items
  • Indentation of list items
  • Alignment of list numbers
  • Starting number value

Adjust Line Spacing Within Lists

The line spacing in numbered lists can be controlled independently from the rest of the document. To adjust it:

  1. Select the list by clicking one of the list items while holding Ctrl
  2. Right-click and select Adjust List Spacing
  3. In the Line spacing section, select the desired value

Common line spacing values to improve readability include:

  • 1.5 lines: Adds half a line of space between each line
  • Double: Doubles the spacing by adding an empty blank line between each line

Set Spacing Between List Items

To add more or less space between individual list items:

  1. Right-click the list and choose Paragraph
  2. In the Spacing section below, specify spacing values before and after list paragraphs

For example, adding 12 pt spacing after paragraphs will add more vertical whitespace between each list item.

Indent Numbered List Items

Indenting list items makes the hierarchical structure more clear for numbered lists. To indent:

  1. Select the list
  2. On the Home tab click the Increase Indent button or use the shortcut Ctrl + M

Repeat to further indent items, or use the Decrease Indent button to remove indentation.

Align List Numbers

The alignment of numbers in a numbered list can be changed to suit different document styles:

  • Left aligned: Numbers are left aligned in the margin, with the text wrapped alongside
  • Right aligned: Numbers are aligned vertically in the right margin area
  • Centered: List numbers are centered between the left margin and the text

To choose an alignment style:

  1. Right click in the list and select Adjust List Indents
  2. In the Alignment section, select the desired option

Set Starting Number Value

To start a numbered list at a number other than 1:

  1. Place the cursor in the list item that should start with the different number
  2. Right-click and choose Set Numbering Value
  3. Enter the number to start with
  4. Click OK

The rest of the list will increment from the newly defined start number.

Reset List Numbering

If a numbered list is broken into multiple sections in a document, the numbering may need to reset, rather than continuously incrementing.

To restart numbering from 1:

  1. Right click the first item of the new list section
  2. Choose Restart numbering
  3. Select to restart at 1

Now this list section will start again at 1 independent of previous sections.

Troubleshoot Issues With List Formatting

Sometimes applying direct formatting to list items can cause unintended changes. If lists start behaving unexpectedly:

  • Select the entire list
  • On the Home tab choose Clear Direct Formatting
  • Reapply any desired list indentation spacing settings

This will remove any errant direct formatting that may interfere with the built-in list styles and reset the list.

Set Defaults Through the Styles Pane

For consistency in longer Word documents, it can help to define custom numbered list styles with desired defaults including:

  • Line spacing
  • Indents
  • Spacing before and after
  • Number alignment
  • etc.

Then apply these styles to all numbered lists within the document for a uniform look by default.


About The Author