How can I create automatically numbered headings in Microsoft Word?

Tilman December 5, 2010
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I think the easiest way to explain what I want is to show it :) Here’s what I want to do:

1. First heading
1.1. First sub-heading
1.2. Second sub-heading
2. Second heading
2.1. More sub-headings
2.2. Etc…

I want Word to add the number automatically so that it is adjusted if I add headings later. I do know that there is the numbering option if I modify the headings styles BUT it doesn’t work the way it should! Word does add the numbers automatically but the above headlines are unfortunately numbered like this:

1. First heading
2. First sub-heading
3. Second sub-heading
4. Second heading
5. More sub-headings
6. Etc…

So now you know the problem that I have :( How can I fix this? How can I get Word to number sub-headings in a way that considers the parent heading number? I hope that somebody can help me… Thanks in advance!

  1. Avi
    May 2, 2012 at 8:21 am

    Hi, I had the same problem, where I didn't have the same menus as in the screenshot.
    The solution for me was to work in 2010 mode, as opposed to compatibility mode in which I was working - doing this will cause the document to not work with earlier versions of MS word.

  2. Dream Mayo
    February 3, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    Hi how this fix, who is and how you going get it right??

  3. Tilman
    December 5, 2010 at 7:40 pm

    [Offtopic]Awww, there are even sweet pictures of all staff members <3 Actually, no, I had never seen your About Us page, but I HAD seen somewhere that you live in North America. But I guess I had somewhere else read something that suggested that you might either be German or at least understand German. Hence, I was not sure, as it was always just a rumor that you are German ;) Going home for Christmas to Frankfurt or to Stuttgart? :) [/Offtopic]Back on topic :D THANK YOUUUU <3 Yes, this tutorial specifically for Word 2010 reveals that it is now done differently. And now it works =) Thank you so much for finding this tutorial! Why did I not find it myself... But I guess (or at least hope) that this is just good traffic for MUO, even if I ask stupid questions :DSo, problem solved! *Back to work*

    • Tina
      December 5, 2010 at 7:50 pm

      I'm flying into Berlin because that's where I lived before I came to Vancouver. Off to Stuttgart two days later because that's where my family lives.Well, as Einstein said: "Wissen heisst wissen wo es geschrieben steht." Knowledge isn't about knowing everything, it's about knowing how to research anything. I guess that's what a university degree is good for. ;)Glad I could help!

      • Tilman
        December 5, 2010 at 8:40 pm

        Hehe, clever girl you are :D In case you decide to make a stop-over in Frankfurt, send me a message, as I might decide to visit my family there... :)

        • Tina
          December 5, 2010 at 8:46 pm

          I won't be in Frankfurt this year. But I do have family and friends in and around Ffm, so maybe some other time.

  4. Tilman
    December 5, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    Tina, you just made me happy and angry at the same time :D Happy because I aaalways had the FEELING that you might be German, but now I finally know it :D I am German, too =) Greet Germany from me in case you are there, as I am currently in Finland myself :)

    And why angry? Because it doesn't work!! :( And I am shocked to realize what the problem is. You see, in my original question I wrote: "I do know that there is the numbering option if I modify the headings styles BUT it doesn’t work the way it should!" And, looking at the tutorial with screenshots (thanks, by the way for the link), I am shocked to see that my MS Word does NOT HAVE that feature! :O It's hard to imagine, but it seems really to be like that. I am talking specifically about step 3.4 of the tutorial, where it says "Click the Outline Numbering tab in the Bullets And Numbering dialog box." I decided to do a screenshot of it, as it does NOT look the same as in the screenshot of the tutorial! Here's the link:
    Even if I click on "Define new number format", there is nothing where I can set the settings which I need and as explained in the tutorial!

    Any ideas why my Word version does not have those options? I am able to follow the tutorial until 3.3 (and their Figure B looks exactly the same with me) but then after that it doesn't work anymore. And yes, I do have a legal copy of MS Office 2010! (Version 14.0.5128.5000). What could be the reason? I realllly hope somebody can help me :(

    • Tina
      December 5, 2010 at 6:51 pm


      actually the MakeUseOf About Us page does reveal that I'm German. :) And I'm even farther away from home than you, I'm in Canada. Coming home briefly from the the 21st to 29th, though.

      As for Word 2010, maybe Microsoft actually made something easier? Does this work for you:

  5. Tina
    December 5, 2010 at 5:32 pm


    I hope I can explain this so you can apply it in your English version of Word. I have the German one in front of me...

    First of all, you don't simply create a numbered list. You must format/style all of your headings. For example use heading 1 through 3 for main heading (1) and two sub-headings (1.1 and 1.1.1). Then you modify each heading style to show a numbered list the way you want it.

    I best refer you to a tutorial with screenshots. This one explains exactly what you want:

    Good luck!

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