MS Word

Use SEQ fields to work around list numbering

A useful workaround for list numbering is to use SEQ fields to define a sequence, rather than using Word's Bullets and Numbering feature. This way, you tell Word explicitly where each list starts, so it can't really get confused. Entering SEQ fields manually is tedious, but you can create AutoCorrect entries that enable you to enter them almost effortlessly.


The advantageand disadvantageof using SEQ fields is that what you're creating isn't a list in Word's standard sense, so Word doesn't treat it as a list. This means that you may need to force renumbering on the paragraphs in the sequence to get the numbering right. Of course, if you're used to having to force Word to restart (or continue) numbering, that shouldn't be too much of a hardship.

To create the AutoCorrect entries:

  1. Start a new paragraph, and press Ctrl+F9 to insert the curly braces that designate the start and end of a field code: {}. (Don't try typing the bracesthat won't work.)

  2. Click inside the braces and type SEQ numlist \r1 to start a sequence of numbered fields starting with 1. Click after the closing brace and type a period and a tab.

  3. Press Shift+Home to select what you've enteredthat is, { SEQ numlist \r1 }. and the tab. Choose Tools » AutoCorrect Options (Tools » AutoCorrect in Word 2000) to display the AutoCorrect dialog box with your selection entered in the With box. Make sure the "Formatted text" option is selected (it should be selected by default), and type 1] in the Replace box. Click the OK button to add the AutoCorrect entry.

  4. Edit your SEQ field so that it reads { SEQ numlist \n }, which will make it enter the next number in the sequence. Type a period and a tab after the closing brace, and press Shift+Home to select from the insertion point back to the beginning of the line. Choose Tools » AutoCorrect Options (Tools » AutoCorrect in Word 2000) to display the AutoCorrect dialog box with your selection entered in the With box. Make sure the "Formatted text" option is selected (it should be selected by default), and type x] in the Replace box. Click the OK button to add the AutoCorrect entry.

  5. Close the AutoCorrect dialog box, Shift-click the File menu, and choose Save All to save these new formatted AutoCorrect entries in Normal.dot.

That probably seemed like pretty fair gibberish, but you can now create a numbered list by typing 1] and a tab at the start of the first paragraph and then x] and a tab at the beginning of each subsequent paragraph. Word automatically displays the correct numbers for the fields. Note that if you later go back and insert a new paragraph in the list, the numbers after it will be wrong. To update them, select the list and press F9.

To begin a list with the numbering continued from the previous list, start the first item of the continuation list with x] rather than 1].

Watch Out for Revision Marks Wrecking Numbered Lists

The Problem:

When I use revision marks, my numbered lists go berserk. How can I restore normality?

The Solution:

If you've read the previous Annoyance, you'll know that Word's list templates can get unstable when they're used extensively. Revision marks make things worse, because in addition to all the numbering that Word already has to track for each list, it has to track which items have been deleted and which added.

As you might guess, most of these problems go away if you stop using revision marksbut that's usually not an option. Your next best choice is to ignore the problems with the revision marks until you (or your colleague) have finished the editing process and cleared the revision marks out of the document. At that point, the numbered lists will most likely look much better, if not perfect. You can then decide between working your way through the document and restarting each numbered list manually, or trying one of the other methods described in the previous Annoyance for hammering the list templates into shape.

by BrainBellupdated
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