Two ways to undo Word's automatic list indent

Want a numbered list but no automatic indents? Learn two ways to work around Word's automatic list indent.

When you use Word's Bullets or Numbering options, you often get a surprise - an indent you might not want. I'm going to show you two ways to undo that indent: a quick but temporary fix for the list at hand and a semi-permanent fix for all of the document's lists.

Quick fix

The figure below shows a simple numbered list. The text boundaries make the indent applied by the Numbering option easy to see. Specifically, I entered the list, highlighted the list, and then clicked Numbering.

Now, here's the quick fix if you don't want the indent: with the entire list (still) selected, click the Decrease option in the Paragraph group. Doing so will quickly align all of the list items with the left margin. This quick fix works with the current list only. If you add to this list, Word will remember the indent. When you start a new list later in the document, it won't.

More permanent fix

If you know that you won't want any (or most) or your lists indented, there's a more permanent fix:

  1. After creating an indented list, double-click any number in the list to select all of the numbers in the list.
  2. Right-click the selection and choose Adjust List Indents.
  3. In the resulting dialog, set Number Position to 0. This is the position where you want to align the numbers.
  4. Set Text Indent to .25. This setting denotes the position where you want the text to align.
  5. Click OK.

With these settings, all subsequent lists in your document will default to the left margin (0). This semi-permanent fix works only for the document at hand, but it's an efficient change when you want the default listings to be the same for most (or all) of the document.


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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