Define custom styles for bullet and numbered outlines in MS Word

Posted on 2013-01-31
Last Modified: 2013-02-28

I feel pretty comfortable using styles in MS Word regular paragraphs. However, how do you define custom styles for multiple levels of an outline — either with numbers/letters or bullets?

As an example, suppose you are creating an outline and you want a style which will automatically increase spacing for each level by 0.5" (with 0.15" hanging indent) and insert the following as bullets:

            • Level I
                        >  Level II
                                    ~ Level III
                                                +  Level IV
                                                            - Level V

Each time I try to define more than one level, it overwrites what I previously defined as the first level.

Question by:Steve_Brady
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LVL 59

Accepted Solution

Chris Bottomley earned 167 total points
ID: 38842527
I find the following link a useful one for the purpose:

LVL 33

Assisted Solution

by:Paul Sauvé
Paul Sauvé earned 333 total points
ID: 38844126
First, define the bullet for each level:
Step 1Step 2
Once that is done, create one paragraph with each level.
Define each paragraph as a new style (ex. Level1, Level2, etc.).

Author Comment

ID: 38874243
Thanks for the response Chris.

>>Once that is done, create one paragraph with each level.
Define each paragraph as a new style (ex. Level1, Level2, etc.).

I've tried that before and the problem (if I understand what you're suggesting) is that each new line must be set to its respective style.

The thing I'm looking for is a way to define a completely new and custom set of bullets which are defined for all nine levels. In other words, isn't it possible to define a single style or style list or list style or multilevel list (or whatever the right term is) which after it has been selected once, will be carried through regardless of what level a particular line happens to be?

For example, somewhere the default settings (including font, size, color, bullet type, bullet indent and text indent, etc.) are defined for all nine levels. Then, once a line is started with that default "package" applied, not only does pressing Tab or Shift+Tab cause Word to change the level and respective formatting, but in the numbering mode, keeps track and correctly inserts the next number (or letter).

That's what I'm looking for, a way to define a complete 9-level "package" which will auto-format and auto-insert/change numbers and letters as appropriate.


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LVL 59

Expert Comment

by:Chris Bottomley
ID: 38874799
I think you were replying to Paul ... I simpy referred to Shaunas article defines an approach to set a style and keep it all consistent.  i.e. it addresses how to set all the related paragraphs or bullet levels.


Author Comment

ID: 38878955
>>I think you were replying to Paul...

That's correct Chris; thanks for pointing it out. I did mistakenly include your name with Paul's quote.

I did spend some time going through Shauna Kelly's steps in the link you provided but for some reason it is just not clicking. I have been confused by this for a long time. In fact, I spent some time creating the following diagram in PowerPoint just to try to keep things straight:
Numbering & styles diagram You will probably need to click to enlarge the above diagram if you want to see box headings but I think it's readable that way. In case not, here is the same diagram in outline form (also attached):
Numbering & styles diagram (outline) After putting the above together, my conclusion is:

"No wonder I'm so confused. There are so many various menus and branching options — not to mention how much is crammed into some of the individual boxes — I'm surprised anyone can really get a handle on it."

Paul, your screenshots are very helpful but, as I mentioned above, I don't believe your post is addressing exactly what I'm asking. If you (or anyone) could provide the exact steps (with screenshots and hopefully a sample file), I would be most grateful.

Many thanks.
LVL 33

Assisted Solution

by:Paul Sauvé
Paul Sauvé earned 333 total points
ID: 38881693
Please have a look at the Step 1 image in my post above. These are the available lists that exist in your instance of Word. When you modify a bullet style, what you are doing is modifying the selected list choice rather than creating a new list. If you are in one list and want a new one, select Define New Multilevel List.

Then define the bullets you want with each level and this new list will now appear in your List Library.

If you don't want to lose the list, then create a new set of paragraph styles for all these new levels.

Author Closing Comment

ID: 38940191
Thanks for the help. did the trick

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