A quick way to create a list of sequential numbers in Word

Creating a list of sequential numbers isn't as difficult as it might sound at first. If you can create a table, you can create a list of sequential numbers.

Creating a sequential list of numbers, in Word, sounds like an intimidating task. Sure, you can create a numbered list quickly enough, but that feature works with additional text - you're numbering something. If you want a list of just numbers, you have to work a bit harder. Word's SEQ field might come to mind, but that solution is better suited to template-type numbering. In order words, this field works great if you're numbering documents, labels, and so on. It doesn't work so well if you just want to create a list of sequential numbers. You can use it that way, but it'll be more work than it's worth.

Another way

Instead of working harder than you need to, insert a one-column table with as many rows as necessary to accommodate your list. Then, using Word's numbering feature, number that column. Finally, convert the table to text. The resulting list is a fixed numbered list, so you'll have to live with its limitations; when you can do so, this method definitely beats most alternative solutions.

To illustrate this simple technique, we'll create a sequential list from 1 to 100. First, we need to insert a table with one column and one hundred rows:

  1. Position your cursor where you want the table.
  2. Click the Insert tab. Then, choose Insert Table from the Table dropdown in the Tables group. In Word 2003, choose Insert from the Table menu and then choose Table.
  3. In the resulting dialog, enter 1 in the Number Of Columns field and 100 in the Number Of Rows field.
  4. Click OK. The resulting table will have one column and one hundred rows.

The next step is to number the column, as follows:

  1. Select the table by clicking the Table Selector (the small square in the table's top-left corner that I've circled in the figure above).
  2. Click the Home tab.
  3. Click Numbering in the Paragraph group. In Word 2003, Numbering is on the Formatting toolbar. At this point, you have a one-column table with one hundred rows displaying a sequential list of 1 to 100.

Converting the table to text is the last step:

  1. With the table selected, click the contextual layout tab. Then, choose Convert To Text in the Data group. In Word 2003, choose Convert from the Table menu, and then select Table To Text.
  2. In the resulting dialog, click OK, as the table uses paragraph marks to denote columns by default. You now have a numbered list, but no table or list items-just numbers.

The results is a numbered list and as such, has the same pros and cons. For instance, you can quickly remove the period character following each number and the indention property, as follows:

  1. Right-click anywhere in the list, choose Numbering from the resulting context menu and then choose Define New Number Format.
  2. In the Number Format field, delete the period character.
  3. From the Alignment dropdown, choose Right.
  4. Click OK.

You can change the numbers in the list by restarting the sequence or by specifying a new start number. You can change the list's style. You can do anything to this list that you can do to a normal numbered list because it is a numbered list, with one exception: the list, while easy to format, is fixed. If you delete an item, the list updates accordingly, but I haven't found a way to add numbers.


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.

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