Paragraph Formatting and Creating Lists


Lists! Lists! Lists! One of the things you will do a lot in Microsoft Word 2013 is create lists. Lists are crucial to organizing text whether it be an unordered list using bullets, or an ordered numbered list, or even a multilevel list, such as what you’d end up with an outline.

Lists can be affected using the lists functions on the “Paragraph” section.


A Quick Note on AutoCorrect

Word will also automatically start a list for you if it thinks it detects that you’re trying to create one.

For example, let’s say you type something “1. Don’t Mess with Texas!” and then you hit “return.” Word will automatically indent that statement as soon as you press the space button after the “1.”

  1. Don’t Mess with Texas!
  2. We have the best BBQ!

When you hit return, it will automatically indent the line and number it (2., 3., 4., etc.).

Some people might find this behavior annoying and may simply want to create lists using the provided buttons. In such a case, you can turn off automatic lists in the options. Go to the “Options” on the “File” tab and choose “Proofing.”


Then click “AutoCorrect Options” and choose the “AutoFormat as You Go.” You can see that there’s a number of different stuff you can disable. In this case, you can turn off number lists and/or bulleted ones.


While you’re in the “AutoCorrect” options, you’d be well to check out the “AutoFormat” options. Feel free to turn stuff off if it bugs you.


As you use Word, you’re going to find it does a lot of things for you, like changing 1/2 to ½ automatically, or changing — (two hyphens) to – (a dash). Check these options because you’re likely to find the fix there (many of these same options can also be found on the “AutoFormat As You Type” tab as well) In fact, you’d do well to check out the whole “AutoCorrect” dialog to understand what formatting tricks Word is applying to your documents.

Let’s now move on to the business of actually building and formatting lists.

Bulleted lists

You can quickly create bulleted lists by selecting the text you want clicking the “Bullets” button. Bullets will be placed at the head of each line after a line break.

From the “Bullet Library” you can select a different bullet scheme. Below you can see which bullets are being used in the document.


Finally, you can define a new bullet scheme from a symbol, picture, or font.


So the end result, is the ability to create lists that adhere to a particular style, like a Pi symbols for a nerdy list:

π Run for Chess Club president

π Buy new Magic cards

π Clean heat sink in desktop

π Dr. Who marathon!

π Play EVE Online

Or you could create a food-themed list with its own special bullet:

clip_image001 Bacon

clip_image001[1] Pizza

clip_image001[2] Mountain Dew

clip_image001[3] Toothbrush

clip_image001[4] Beer (sadly, not free)

The point is, you’re not limited in the stock bullets that come with Word 2013, so feel free to express yourself and use them to your advantage!

Numbered lists

When you want to create a numbered list, you can usually begin a line with a number and Word will automatically start formatting it as such. You can still create a list and apply numbers to it though by clicking the “Numbering” button.

Similarly to the bullets window, you can choose a new numbering scheme from a “Numbering Library” and see which numbering schemes are employed in the current document.


You can also define new numbering formats (font, style, and format).


Calling them “Numbered Lists” is something of a misnomer. They’re really more ordered lists because you can order them by any scheme that basically counts up.

So, you can have a numbered list (1, 2, 3, 4 …), or you can use letters (A, B, C, D …), or Roman Numerals (I, II, III, IV …). It’s really up to you, once again showing the power of Word’s formatting skills!

Multilevel lists

Finally, a multilevel list, such as you’d typically used to create outlines, can be applied by selecting your text and clicking the “Multilevel List” button.

You can quickly manipulate levels in your outline by placing the pointer at the front of new line and using “Tab” and “Shift + Tab” to increase and decrease them, respectively.


You can also create a new list if the current selections don’t meet your needs. In this dialog, you can select each level you want to modify and apply formats, styles, positions, and so on.


Similarly, you can define a new list style. Here you see we can name our new style, define levels and indenting, whether it’s bulleted, numbered, as well as choose symbols or pictures. Note, this dialog originates from the “Multilevel List” options but it applies to all types of aforementioned list styles.


In most cases, you’re going to want to use bulleted and numbered lists most often while multilevel lists are useful for creating outlines. Nevertheless, you have a huge amount of flexibility with all three. Whether you’re just making a simple bulleted list with checkboxes for your children’s chores, or outlining an epic 1000+ page novel with multiple chapters and sub-chapters, Word allows you grab control of your creation process and produce winning content!

Coming up Next…

So there ends today’s lesson, we hope you are on firmer ground when it comes to paragraph formatting, shading and borders, as well as the myriad of options you have when it comes to lists. Don’t forget, you can always go back and read Lesson 1 if you missed anything we previously covered.

In tomorrow’s lesson, we’re going to cover tables as well a whole host of formatting controls such as headers and footers, working with symbols, and quite a bit more!

Matt Klein is an aspiring Florida beach bum, displaced honorary Texan, and dyed-in-wool Ohio State Buckeye, who fancies himself a nerd-of-all-trades. His favorite topics might include operating systems, BBQ, roller skating, and trying to figure out how to explain quantum computers.