Word: How to format just the numbers in a numbered list

Formatting a list is easy. Formatting just the numbers is more difficult, unless you know this quick trick!

It's easy to create a bullet or numbered list, but not so easy to format just the number for one item in that list. What usually happens is you end up formatting the entire item, or the entire list. Fortunately, there's a simple trick that works great: select the item's end-of-paragraph marker and apply the format - not exactly intuitive is it?

To illustrate this simple, but odd, trick, let's change the color of a couple of numbers in a simple list, as follows:

  1. On the Home tab, click Show/Hide in the Paragraph group. In Word 2003, click Show/Hide on the Formatting toolbar.
  2. Select only the Paragraph mark at the end of the line whose number you want to format. For instance, select the paragraph mark at the end of #6.
  3. With the paragraph mark selected, apply the format. For instance, apply red Font Color.

To format more than one number, but not all of them, hold down the [Ctrl] key while you select markers. Then, apply the format as you normally would. Formats applied to the entire list will take precedence over formats applied via the end-of-paragraph marker.

To format all of the numbers in the list, without changing the format of the actual text, click any number in the list to highlight all of the numbers and then format as you normally would. Word will extend the format to new items.

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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