Easy tricks for formatting list numbers and bullets in Word

Don't let selection woes get in the way of formatting just the numbers and bullets in a list. Here are two simple (but non-intuitive) ways to handle the task.

A quick click is all it takes to create a numbered or bulleted list in a Word document. Select the text and click a button — it couldn't be simpler. What isn't so simple is applying a format to just the numbers or bullets in the resulting list, unless you know how to select the numbers or bullets. Selecting just the numbers of bullets isn't difficult, it just isn't intuitive. Normally, you drag to highlight text. You can't drag across the numbers of bullets in a list. Instead, simply click any number or bullet in the list to highlight all of the numbers or bullets in the list. Once you do, you can apply a font format as you normally would. (Word will extend the format to new items.) As you can see in the following figure, I've changed the color and font for just the numbers. The previous technique formats all of the numbers or bullets in a list. However, you might want to format one or even several, but not all of them. Selecting individual numbers or bullets is next to impossible. The trick to this formatting task is to format each item's end-of-paragraph marker. Word will apply any formatting that you apply to the end-of-paragraph marker to that item's number or bullet, but not to the text. First, you should display the markers by clicking the Show/Hide button on the Standard toolbar. (The icon looks like a backward P.) Once you can see the markers, they're easy to select. Just select the marker at the end of the item you want to format. Or select multiple markers by holding down the [Ctrl] key as you select each marker. After selecting the marker(s), apply font formats as you normally would. It's worth nothing that formats applied to the entire list take precedence over formats applied via the end-of-paragraph marker.

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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