Lists in Word

Make lists using one of the list icons on Word’s “Home” ribbon. Or let Word auto-create a list.

Why List Structure Matters

A list is a great way to provide concise information that’s easy to skim and understand. When a screen reader encounters a list, it can announce the presence of a list and tell the user how many items are in the list. As with headings, you want to make real lists in Word, not just groups of paragraphs that look like lists. Properly made lists will maintain their structure if you paste them into an HTML page or save your file in PDF format.

How to Make Lists in Word

  1. Make sure you’re on the “Home” tab of the ribbon.
  2. In the “Paragraph” section, click one of the list buttons, either “Bullets,” “Numbering,” or “Multilevel List.”

That will start your list. Each time you press Enter or Return you’ll start a new list item. Alternatively, you can type your list items as a series of paragraphs, select them all, then click one of the list buttons to convert the paragraphs to a list.

It’s a good idea to include a heading just before a list. But that’s not required.

Customize Lists

When customizing lists in Word, it’s easy to accidentally create something that is just a series of paragraphs, even though those lists were created through the list options on the ribbon. Here are some tips to help you get true lists.

  • Stick with the plain round dot for bullet lists.
  • Especially avoid the fancy picture bullets, like chevrons and check marks.
  • For numbered and multilevel lists, stick with numbers, letters, and Roman numerals.