How to prefix a numbered list in Microsoft Word

Susan Harkins shows you how to quickly add a descriptive prefix to a numbered list in a Word document.

It's easy to create a numbered list in Word. You enter the list items, select them, and click Numbering in the Paragraph group on the Home tab. It's quick and easy. Thanks to all the numbering options, you have a lot of control over sequence and format. One thing that you can do, quite easily, is prefix each number with descriptive text. To illustrate this easy-to-implement technique, we'll create a simple list and prefix each number with the text "Flower" as shown below.

To create this prefixed list, do the following:

  1. Enter the list items.
  2. Select the list.
  3. Click Numbering In the Paragraph group on the Home tab. In Word 2003, click Numbering on the Formatting toolbar. At this point, you have a simple numbered list.
  4. Select the numbers. To do so, click any of the numbers and Word will highlight the entire list. If any of the list items are selected, try again.
  5. Right-click the selected numbers. Highlight (don't click) Numbering and then choose Define New Number Format.
  6. In the resulting dialog, add "Flower " to the Number Format control - enter it to the left of the existing number. Notice that I included a space after Flower to separate the text from the number.
  7. Click OK.

This is a simple way to add descriptive text to a numbered list. The text must be consistent throughout the list and this setting will stay in effect until you change it. That means, the next list that you format will also have the text prefix. You must remove the text from the Number Format control (step 6). You can also close and reopen the document to reset the option.

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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