After Hours

10 steps to creating inline numbering in a Word document

Setting up numbering within your text requires a little ingenuity. The trick is to take advantage of Word's SEQ field.

Word's numbering feature is easy to use, but it doesn't work in all situations. For instance, it can't handle an inline number sequence. By inline, I mean a sequence of numbers positioned within regular text. Fortunately, the SEQ field code handles these situations. I'll start by showing you how to insert the SEQ field code manually, for those one-time occurrences. If you use this feature often, you'll want to add AutoCorrect items for quick insertion into your text. So we'll look at that, too.

1: Insert an SEQ field

It's easy to enter a SEQ field manually. Begin by pressing [Ctrl]+[F9]. When Word displays the blank field, enter seq list1, as shown in Figure A. List1 is a required argument; you can use any descriptive name you like as long as it begins with an alpha character. The parentheses distinguish the numbers within the text. They're not part of the field code. Highlight the field code and press [F9] to display the field's value. As you can see in Figure B, the first field returns (1).

Figure A

Enter the SEQ field arguments.

Figure B

Press [F9] to update the SEQ field code.

2: Create the first sequence

To create the inline numbering sequence, copy the code and the surrounding parentheses. Position the cursor where you want to continue the sequence within your text and press [Ctrl]+V. Figure C shows the result of pasting several throughout the paragraph. At this point, they all display 1.

Figure C

Paste field codes inline.

3: Update the sequence

To update the actual sequence, select the paragraph and press [F9]. As you can see in Figure D, the field codes begin with 1 and increment by 1. Those are the default settings.

Figure D

Update the field codes to return sequential numbers.

4: Reset!

You could copy the inline-numbered paragraph, update all the values, and the codes would evaluate based on the preceding paragraph. In other words, the new paragraph's first field code would update to 8, the second to 9, and so on. But you can reset a code and thereby subsequent codes using a special switch as follows:

  1. Highlight the first code in the sequence and press [Alt]+[F9] to toggle to the field code display. Don't include the parentheses when you highlight the field code.
  2. Add the following switch \r 1, as shown in Figure E.
  3. With the field code still highlighted, press [Alt]+ [F9] to toggle back to the results display. The \r switch resets the value sequence (from earlier field codes), and 1 tells the code to begin the sequence with the number 1. This code should probably return 1, but don't worry if it doesn't.
  4. Highlight the entire paragraph and press [F9] to update all the fields. Figure F shows the results; the first code returns 1, and the remaining fields increment by 1.

Figure E

Add the \r switch to reset the field code.

Figure F

Resetting one field code also updates subsequent codes in the same sequence.

Notice that we're still using the same name, list1. That's fine for our purposes. If you want to start an entirely new sequence, use a new name.

Fields are also available via the Insert tab, through the Quick Parts drop-down. Choose Field to display an interface option for entering field codes. In Word 2003, choose Field from the Insert menu.

5: Copy a field to AutoCorrect

Entering an SEQ field manually is easy enough, but if you're working with this field a lot, there's a much easier way: You can use AutoCorrect to insert them into text. Create the AutoText entry as follows:

  1. Display the field code with the reset switch, { seq \r 1}, by pressing [Alt]+[F9].
  2. Highlight the field code (see Figure E) along with the parentheses, if you mean to include them too.
  3. With the field code highlighted, click the File tab and choose Options. In Office 2007, click the Office button and then click Word Options. In Word 2003, choose AutoCorrect Options from the Tools menu and skip to #6.
  4. In the left pane, choose Proofing.
  5. Click the AutoCorrect Options button in the AutoCorrect Options section, shown in Figure G.
  6. Click the AutoCorrect tab (if necessary).
  7. In the Replace control, enter the keys you'll press to insert the field. You'll want to choose a key sequence you won't use (or seldom use). I used 1} as shown in Figure H. Those two keys might be easy to remember when linked to a reset SEQ field. (At least, I think so.)
  8. Click OK twice.

Figure G

Access the AutoCorrect settings.

Figure H

Enter a key combo for the AutoCorrect reset field.

6: Add sequential AutoCorrect

Using the instructions in #5, add an incrementing SEQ field. You can highlight any of them, except the reset field. For step 7, enter n}. n is the default switch that inserts the next number in the sequence, making it easy to remember. You don't have to specify the \n switch, because it's the default, but you can add it if it helps document your choice.

7: Display values

When you return to the document, press [Alt]+[F9] to toggle the fields to their resulting values. If you find it easier working with the codes showing, skip this step for now.

8: Enter a reset field using AutoCorrect

When you're reading to start a new sequence, use AutoCorrect to enter the reset SEQ field. Position the cursor within your text and enter 1}. Figure I shows the resulting field as (1).

Figure I

Use AutoCorrect to enter a reset SEQ field.

9: Enter an incremental field using AutoCorrect

Following the reset sequential field, enter the incrementing field the same way. Position the cursor and enter n}. Figure J shows the first incrementing field after the reset field.

Figure J

Enter an incrementing SEQ field.

10: Enter as needed

Continue in this pattern anytime you need to enter inline numbers. Use the reset SEQ field to start a sequence. Follow the reset field with the incrementing SEQ field, as shown in Figure K. You can enter as many incrementing fields as you like. The field is smart enough to continue incrementing until you enter a new reset field.

Figure K

Use AutoCorrect to quickly enter SEQ fields inline with text.

Automatically sign up for TechRepublic's 10 Things newsletter!


Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.


Paragraph numbering is another example where Word 2010 is inferior to even WordPerfect 2000...


There is a whole different process to autonumbering paragraphs. There should be some information about the process here on TechRepublic. We worked it out through trial and lots of errors. The simplest explanation is Select H1 style and get to the autonumbering function. Set the beginning number and any tabs or spacing or punctuation. Without closing the dialog box, select level 2 and repeat. Continue for the levels of paragraphs that you want to be autonumbered. Once the numbering sequence is complete, select H2 and set it to be based on H1, change formatting options as needed and save. Repeat with the following paragraph levels, setting each succeeding level to be based on the previous level. Apply the style tags to your paragraphs as desired. Done correctly, this will make your paragraphs autonumbered and they will follow one another in sequence. For examples see the website (not www). Look at the 8900.1 chapters and sections. The Word examples can be downloaded by the public for educational purposes.


I've used sequence numbering in specific circumstances, but am I the only one finding that paragraph numbering is becoming worse in every subsequent version of Word? Legal numbering is relatively simple as it continues throughout the entire document. However the battle begins when you have several sets of numbered paragraphs that all need to start at 1. It doesn't seem to matter how I setup the style - restarting the number at any point destroys both the numbering and indenting throughout the entire document. I have now reached the point where I avoid numbered paragraphs altogether and use bullets instead. Does anyone else struggle with this?


The example seems to show numbering within a document, at points specified by the creator. (It is not showing numbering sentences or numbering lines--just specified points within a document.) How does one number the lines, as is often done with legal documents? Then, when the text changes, will the new lines be numbered correctly? (I hope the mechanism will be easier.)


To add line numbers for legal documents, use the Line Number function in Word. In Word 2010, on the Page Layout tab, in the Page Setup group, click Line Numbers. There are even several options to choose from for how the numbers are applied.

Editor's Picks