How to Create a Custom List Style in a Microsoft Word Document

781751 How to Create a Custom List Style in a Microsoft Word Document

Creating a custom list style in Word allows you to define your own bullet point, numbering format, text styling, indentation, and more for lists across documents based on the same template. This saves you time formatting lists consistently.

Why Create a Custom List Style?

Here are some key reasons to create reusable custom list styles in Word:

  • Consistency – Define once and maintain uniform list formatting across all documents
  • Customization – Tailor list number, bullet symbol, text style, indentation, etc.
  • Efficiency – Avoid manually formatting each individual list
  • Reusability – Save as part of the Normal template to access the style in every new document

Steps to Create a Custom List Style

Follow these steps to create a custom list style from scratch in Word:

1. Define List Properties

  1. On the Home tab, open the Multilevel List menu
  2. Click Define New List Style
  3. Choose list type – bulleted or numbered
  4. Set desired indentation, alignment, font style, etc.
  5. Click More to access advanced formatting like color, spacing, etc.

2. Add to Template

  1. Check the box to Add this list to the List Library
  2. Select New documents based on this template
  3. Click OK to save custom list style

3. Apply Custom List Style

  1. Place cursor where you want the list
  2. On the Home tab, open the Multilevel List menu
  3. Select your custom list style

Once created, the custom list style will be available in all new documents based on the same template.

Custom List Style Ideas

Here are some creative ways to use a custom list style in Word documents:

  • Numbered outline – Great for reports, proposals, chapters etc. Set indentation and text style per level
  • Bulleted highlights – Bold special bullets in a contrasting color to call out key points
  • Icon bullets – Add symbols or icon images as bullets for visual interest
  • Letter hierarchy – Use letters/roman numerals for an alphabetical or tiered list
  • Legal numbering – Define a multi-level legal numbering system with specific punctuation

The possibilities are endless when you make your own reusable list format.

Advantages of Using Custom List Styles

Defining your own list style offers many benefits:

  • Pixel-perfect design – Craft a list to match your brand style guide’s spacing, font, etc.
  • Improved readability – Format list text consistently for better comprehension
  • Global updates – Change the style once to update all lists document- or template-wide
  • Cleaner source files – Avoid in-line list formatting cluttering up document code
  • Reuse – Bypass manual steps each time you need that special list

In summary, custom Word list styles are easy to make, reusable, and keep your documents consistent. Define your specialized bullet or number sequence once, then benefit across all your documents.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some common questions about custom list styles in Word:

What’s the easiest way to create a custom list style?

The fastest way is to format an existing list with your desired look first. Then right click the list and choose “Save selection as new list style” to base the custom style on what you see.

Can I change the list number or bullet symbol?

Yes! When defining a new custom style, use the formatting options to select special characters, images, or custom numbers like letters instead of numerals.

How do I remove extra spacing before or after list paragraphs?

Adjust the spacing in the paragraph settings when creating the custom style. Set spacing before/after to 0.

What’s the best way to create a legal numbering system?

Use a custom multilevel list style. Set the first level to your desired numbering like I.A.1. then format lower levels to add sequential numbers/letters in the correct legal format.

Can I base a new style on a custom list I already made?

Yes, edit an existing custom style and use the “Save as” option to create a new style using that one as a starting point.


Defining reusable custom list styles is easy in Word and offers many benefits for consistent formatting and readability. The steps are simple:

  1. Set up your desired list properties like special numbering or bullets
  2. Save the list as a new style
  3. Apply to instantly format lists across documents styled from the same template

Use custom lists to create outlines, highlight key points, match brand style guides, and more while avoiding repetitive manual formatting work.

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