bulleted and numbered listsDon’t type them manually

Are you still mak­ing bul­leted and num­bered lists by man­u­ally typ­ing bul­lets or num­bers at the be­gin­ning of each line?

In the 21st cen­tury, no one should be do­ing this task by hand. Man­u­ally for­mat­ted lists are a waste of time and prone to er­ror. Use au­to­mated lists. I can get you started, but if you’re un­fa­mil­iar with au­to­mated lists, spend some time with your word proces­sor’s man­ual or help file.

How to insert an automated list

WordHome tab → Paragraph panel. The three but­tons in the up­per-left cor­ner will start a new list: the first but­ton starts a bul­leted list, the sec­ond a num­bered list, the third an out­line list.

Word­Per­fectInsertOutline/Bullets & Numbering. The Bullets tab of­fers bul­leted lists, the Numbers tab of­fers num­bered and out­line lists.

by the way
  • As I sug­gested in mix­ing fonts, it’s ac­cept­able to set a list in­dex (i.e., a bul­let or a num­ber) in a dif­fer­ent font than the list item it­self. You can also make the list in­dex a smaller point size.

  • As­ter­isks are some­times used as bul­lets, but they’re not qual­i­fied for the job—they’re too small and too high.

  • Look out for over­large bul­lets. Like first-line in­dents, they should be big enough to be no­tice­able, but no big­ger. I usu­ally pre­fer hol­low bul­lets to solid bul­lets be­cause they’re more subtle.

  • A ding­bat is a non­al­pha­betic ty­po­graphic or­na­ment. That’s why those sym­bol fonts on your com­puter have names like Zapf Ding­bats and Wingdings. Ding­bat fonts can be a good source of al­ter­na­tive bul­lets and num­bers. Sim­ple geo­met­ric ding­bats are bet­ter than pic­to­r­ial ones, which don’t trans­late to small sizes. Be aware that these ding­bat fonts some­times con­tain sym­bols with cul­tural or re­li­gious sig­nif­i­cance—tread care­fully if the sym­bol is un­fa­mil­iar to you.

  • Word proces­sors use au­to­matic list de­tec­tion by de­fault. When you type some­thing that looks like a bul­leted or num­bered list, it’s con­verted into an au­to­mated list. If that method works for you, great. I turn off this fea­ture be­cause I find it only guesses right about half the time.

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