Burning Down The House

by James Classen

This post (unlike most of them) is intended to be informative. In Microsoft Word 2007 (and possibly other versions), it is sometimes desirable to create outline-numbered documents (all are formatted this way at my company). Now, since we ignore the procedures manual (which was written for typewriters and early computers, pre-Microsoft Word), there are a few difficulties with the procedures. Strange thing is, I haven’t found any clear instructions on how to do this (possibly because the titles of the article are so completely unrelated like this one), so I’m doing my best to publish the method I use, and hopefully it’s the method advocated by MS MVPs. I’ll try to add pictures when I get a chance.

I’m making the assumption that you start with a clean document, probably using the default Word 2007 style set.

If outline numbering for your document isn’t set up, “Heading 1”, “Heading 2”, etc. will have no numbers displayed in front of them in the Styles ribbon. Open the “Define new Multilevel list” dialog. Attach these headings to the corresponding list levels (if you’ve done it before, it remembers the preferences; I’ll have to check on a clean install I have at home if this is the case there as well).

The first few headings in our documents are expected to be sans-number. In a book, this is similar to the preface. Then there’s the main body of the document, with sections 1, 2, 3, etc. Finally, we may or may not have appendices, which are lettered, A, B, C, etc. We want the table of contents to look like the following, if possible:

1. Chapter 1
1.1 Section 1.1
1.2 Section 1.2
2. Chapter 2
3. Chapter 3
Appendix A
Appendix B

The first bit is simple. Create a section using the style “Heading 1”, type “Preface”, then move your cursor to the beginning, and hit [Backspace]. This will remove the numbering scheme for that paragraph alone. The indentation will remain intact, but another press of [Backspace] can get rid of that, if you so desire.

The chapters are even simpler, just use Heading 1, 2, 3, etc.

But things get slightly more difficult for the appendices:

  1. Create a paragraph using the “Heading 1” style.
  2. Open the “Define new Multilevel list” dialog.
  3. Ensure the entire dialog is shown by clicking “More >>”.
  4. Select level 1 to modify.
  5. Change the “Number style for this level” to “A, B, C, …” (or whatever your choice is).
  6. Change “Start at” to “A”.
  7. Under “Enter formatting for number”, add “Appendix” before the letter.
  8. Most important: change the drop down for “Apply changes to” to “This point forward”

Also, keep in mind that if you ever want to modify styles for previous “Heading 1” paragraphs, you may have to repeat these steps or risk messing up the document. So this type of thing should be saved until you’re confident of the formatting of your document.