How to fix multilevel list in Word


Sometimes, it could be a gruesome experience fixing multilevel lists in your Word document, more so if document contains hundreds of pages with multiple heading levels. In this article, I am going to discuss a few tricks to quickly get rid of the mess and streamline your document as quickly as possible.

I am assuming that you already know how to create multilevel list in Word (if not, here is how:

In your current document where the list numbering has gone wrong:

1.   Select a first heading level in your document and then from the Word Ribbon menu, under the tab Home, within the group Paragraph, click the Multilevel List icon. A drop-down list appears. See below image.

2.   From the drop-down list, click the option Define New Multilevel List. Define New Multilevel List dialog box appears.


3.   From the dialog box, click the button More (available on the left bottom corner). The dialog box expands with additional fields. At this juncture, understand that the main reasons for the numbered headings going out of order is due to the missing links between heading levels you have applied in your document and corresponding default heading styles of Word. We will restore the links using the Define New Multilevel List dialog box.

4.   In the dialog box, you can see the heading levels as 1, 2, 3,….9 on extreme left under the label “Click level to modify”. Assume that these are the heading levels in your document. Click heading “1” and subsequently from the drop-down list Link level to style , select Heading 1 style.


Similarly, restore connections for the rest of the heading levels (heading 2, 3, …etc.) in your document. Click OK.   Once your are done with establishing connections between the heading levels in the document to  default heading levels, apply the same to all heading 1s,  all heading 2s, etc. in the document. Keeping your heading 1 selected in the document, click Alt+O+S. The Styles pane appears on the right.

1.   Locate the heading level 1 in the Styles pane.Place mouse cursor over it. The heading level gets selected.

2.   Click the down arrow button on the extreme right. A drop-down list appears. See below image.

3.   From the drop-down list, click option Update Heading 1 to Match Selection. As a result, all the Heading 1s in your document will be linked to default heading 1. Do the same for the rest of the levels (heading 2, heading 3, etc.) in your document.