Sunday, June 17, 2012

Fumbling with Numbering

In most of my posts, I haven't spent a lot of time on bullets and numbering. As a general statement, they have business applications but not so much for a genealogist...unless you happen to be a professional who writes instructions.

I'm assuming that any numbered genealogy charts you might want to produce that you're producing them using genealogy software. Please produce them using your genealogy software and copy and paste the results in Word documents.

Numbering in MS Word has a long and sordid history. People have written articles and done hour long presentations trying to explain how Word handles numbering.

For Word 2003, the deal is this...Word creates one long list of numbers. If you have five sections in a document with five number items in the five sections, Word has one list of number 1 through 25. When you restart a list at the number 1, it adds code to restart and show the number 1 but it really really might be 15 in the little mind of Word. If you try to add an additional list or list item before #25 in the list, Word loses its mind and your number system gets messed up. The problem was fixed in Word 2007 and the developers added a cool shortcut that you might want to learn to use if you have occasion to use numbered lists. This shortcut also works in Word 2010.

This shortcut assumes that you're are using the Number button in the Paragraph group on the Home tab rather than a numbered style.

  1. Start your list by clicking the Number button in the Paragraph group on the Home tab. 
  2. Type the text for a step or two (see the sample above). You can then break your list to add a screenshot.
  3. Press the Enter key to get a new numbered line. 
  4. Click  the Number button to turn off the numbering.
  5. Insert a graphic or text that doesn't need to be numbered; for example, a note.
  6. Press the Enter key to get a new line. 
  7. Click the Number button to turn on the numbering. 
  8. Look for a button with a lightning bolt to the left the number. Depending on what you've done, you can get a continued number (3 as shown in the example above) or a new list starting with 1. 
    • If Word continues numbering from the previous list (3):
      • And that's what you want, you can just keep typing. 
      • But you want to start a new list at 1, you can  click the drop-down arrow on the lightning bolt button and select the Restart Numbering option.
    • If Word starts a new list with the number 1:
      • And that's what you want, you can just keep typing.
      • But you want to continue the list, click the drop-down arrow on the lightning bolt button and select the Continue Numbering option.
For anyone who has fought numbering in MS Word documents, this shortcut is a big deal. If you have only occasional need for numbered list, count your lucky stars if you're using Word 2007 or 2010. You'll be spared from hours of hair pulling frustration while trying to get the numbering to work.

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