Change the alignment for numbers in a list in Word

Word uses left aligned numbers in a numbered list, by default, but a right-aligned list of numbers is just a few clicks away.

Numbering a list in Word is simple. You select the items and click Numbering in the Paragraph group on the Home tab. If you're still using Word 2003, click Numbering on the Formatting toolbar. Despite how easy it is to use, you've probably noticed an odd default behavior - the numbers are left aligned, which isn't the normal format most of us will need.

Fortunately, you can fix the alignment, as follows:

  1. Select and then right-click the numbered list.
  2. Choose Numbering from the resulting menu. In Word 2003, choose Bullets and Numbering.
  3. Select Define New Number Format from the list below the gallery. In Word 2003, click the Customize button.
  4. In the resulting dialog box, choose Right from the Alignment dropdown. In Word 2003, you'll use the Number Position dropdown.
  5. Click OK. Word will immediately adjust the alignment of the numbered list.

The left alignment is an odd choice for the default, as most uses will want the numbers right aligned. Changing this setting  is a temporary document-specific action. Word will continue to right-align numbers until you change it. If you save and close the document, it will default to left alignment the next time you open it.

About Susan Harkins

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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