How to restart style-based numbering

Article contributed by Margaret Aldis (Click here to go to Margaret's website).

Applies to Windows Word versions 97 to 2003, with some variation in the manifestation of problems. Most of the information here is also relevant to Mac versions of Word, but has not been tested.

Background to the problem

The most reliable way of creating numbered paragraphs is to use paragraph styles to apply the numbering. This makes all paragraphs with the same numbered style belong to the same numbered list, and numbering is continuous through the whole document.

For numbered headings, continuity of numbering is generally exactly what is wanted, but for many other types of numbering - for example, the numbered steps in a list of instructions - you would probably want the numbering to restart at the beginning of each new list.

To make sense of what is going on, you need to understand a few key details about numbered paragraph styles and 'list templates'. (If you want to go deeper, see Word's numbering explained.)

A list template defines a numbering scheme, including the form of number to be used and the tabs and indents for the numbered paragraphs. List templates can be multi-level or single-level. When a paragraph style is numbered or bulleted, the style is linked to a level of a list template.

There are two ways of setting up numbered styles and making this link. You can either do it manually, working from the style at the top level of the list template, as explained by Shauna Kelly in How to create numbered headings or outline numbering in your Microsoft Word document, or you can create the list template and link each level to the appropriate style using a VBA macro.

When you apply a numbered style to a paragraph, Word automatically applies the list template and list level linked to that style, and you do not need to access the list template directly. The result is that the paragraph will have the same list template and belong to the same numbered list as all other paragraphs in that style, and its numbering will simply continue from the previous paragraph in the style.

Ways of restarting numbering

There are a number of different ways you can force the numbering to restart, each with advantages and disadvantages:

Warning: Avoid using the Format > Bullets and Numbering dialog to restart list numbering (and its equivalent, the ListGalleries collection, in VBA code). Accessing list templates via the list galleries has been implicated in building up extra list templates in documents, changing list template names, and losing links between list templates and styles.