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Adding line numbers to a Microsoft Word document can help you point others to exact positions within it, especially in documents with multiple pages. Here’s how to quickly add line numbers in Word.

These instructions should work for recent Office versions (from 2010 onwards). Before you begin, note that Word will treat tables and text boxes as if they’re on a single line, regardless of how large they are.

Adding Line Numbers to an Entire Document

To start adding line numbers, you’ll need to open your Word document. In the ribbon bar at the top, click on the “Layout” tab. From here, click the “Line Numbers” button.

A drop-down menu offers several potential options. To have line numbers that run through your document continuously, rather than restarting on each new page, click on the “Continuous” option.

To have the line numbers restart on each new page, select “Restart Each Page” instead.

Once selected, the line numbers will appear on the left side of the document page.

An example of line numbers being used in a Microsoft Word document

Line numbers will appear only in the print view mode, so if you have another viewing mode selected, click on the “Print Layout”  button in the bottom-right corner of your Word document window.

Adding Line Numbers to Individual Sections

It’s possible to separate pages of a Word document into individual sections using section breaks. You can set Word to restart the sequence of line numbers with each new section break.

RELATED: How to Find Section Breaks in a Word Document

In your Word document, click the “Layout” tab in the ribbon bar and then click on the “Line Numbers” button. Select “Restart Each Section” from the drop-down menu.

If you want to add a new section break, click the “Breaks” button. This is just above the “Line Numbers” button in the “Layout” tab.

From there, click “Continuous” to add a new section break without shifting the Word cursor to a new page.

A new set of line numbers will begin immediately underneath the newly-inserted section break.

An example of line numbers in Word, with a new sequence of numbers starting after a section break

Removing Line Numbers

If you’d prefer to remove line numbers from your document, in whole or in part, you can also do this from the “Line Numbers” menu (Layout > Line Numbers).

To remove them from your document entirely, click “None” in the “Line Numbers” drop-down menu.

If you want to hide them from a particular paragraph, click on the paragraph and then select “Suppress for Current Paragraph” from the “Line Numbers” drop-down menu instead.

This will completely remove the paragraph from the line numbers sequence. The sequence will restart with the following number on the next line immediately underneath the paragraph.

An example of line numbers missing a paragraph in Word

Line Number Formatting

By default, your line numbers will appear with the same font, size, and color as specified by the default “Line Number” style in Word. To modify the appearance of your line numbers, you’ll need to modify this text style, although Word hides it by default.

First, click on the “Home” tab in your ribbon bar. Click the vertical arrow menu button in the lower-right corner of the “Styles” section. This will bring up an extra pop-up “Styles” menu.

From there, click the “Options” button.

In the “Select Styles to Show” drop-down menu, select “All Styles” before clicking the “OK” button to save.

In the Style Pane Options menu, choose All Styles from the Select Styles to Show drop-down menu

You’ll now be able to edit the “Line Number” font style.

In the pop-up “Styles” menu, find the “Line Number” option. Click on the side menu arrow next to the listing and then click on the “Modify” button.

In the “Modify Style” menu, edit the formatting options for your line number style, as appropriate.

Click “OK” to apply the new style to your line numbers.

Once applied, your new font style will be applied to all of the line numbers in your Word document.

Profile Photo for Ben Stockton Ben Stockton
Ben Stockton is a freelance tech writer from the United Kingdom. In a past life, he was a UK college lecturer, training teens and adults. Since leaving the classroom, he's been a tech writer, writing how-to articles and tutorials for MakeUseOf, MakeTechEasier, and Cloudwards.net. He has a degree in History and a postgraduate qualification in Computing.
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