Creating an Outline Using Automatic Numbering in Microsoft Word

Sharing buttons:

to start an outline open a new Microsoft

Word document then give your outline a

title Center your title then hit enter a

couple of times

get the justification back over to the

left and begin typing the items of your

outline we're going to start with a

Roman numeral one which is a capital

letter I a period a space and the first

item in your outline when you hit Enter

you go into a mode called automatic

numbering from here on out Microsoft

Word will try to automatically number

your list of items and it will follow

certain rules about how outlines work

which you may need to adjust as you go

along as you type each time you hit

enter you create a new topic in the

outline for each topic you then have to

indicate whether it's really a new topic

or whether it's a sub topic by how far

you indent to indent you're going to use

either the indent buttons which are

right up here on this second toolbar and

you may find that you need to drag your

second toolbar down so you can see the

entire toolbar or you can use the tab

key on your keyboard the tab key looks

like this the indent buttons look like

this so on my example here I'm going to

create a sub topic called displays and

in order for that to move over to the

next level I'll use the indent button

this is also a sub topic I'm going to

leave it right at that level this next

item is really a new main topic I need

to unand nth so to unand nth there's one

button up here called decrease indent or

you can do a shift tab so again looking

at the tab button you can see that

there's a shift tab that goes backwards

and there's also a backwards indent

button on your toolbar so if I use the

decrease indent button it goes back out

to the first level so again here I'm

going to create a new subtopic I'm going

to tab or I'm going to increase the


and another subtopic and this will be a

newt main new main topic and so again I

use that decrease indent button to get

that back out to the main level so far

Microsoft Word has been playing nicely

with us it's been helping us out by

numbering things however if you've

looked at some of the examples for this

project you've noticed that this second

level in really should be capital

letters and not lowercase letters and in

fact Microsoft Word makes some

assumptions that we need to change in

order to change the what's called the

numbering style at each level you simply

double click any of the items in that

level so you can see I clicked just once

and it's selected all the things on this

level when you double click that you can

pick out a style so for example the

second the second level style is capital

letters so when I pick that style and I

hit OK it just changes all of them to

the correct style as you're going to see

in your handouts the correct style is

that the first level of topics is uses

capital Roman numerals the second level

of topics uses capital letters the third

level uses Arabic numerals then it goes

lowercase letters and then lowercase

Roman numerals you should not need to

have any more than four or five sub sub

sub topics for any one topic so again

I'm going to show you an example where

the numbering styles are not correct

this is an outline about fiction genres

this first level is correct because it's

capital Romans the second level is not


it's got lowercase letters and it's got

a parenthesis which we do not use so I'm

going to pick any one of these and when

I double click on it I'm going to change

that second level to capital letter a

our capital letters in general we will

make A's and B's as needed the next

level in is correct

and then the third level in should be

lowercase letters without parentheses

and when I hit okay it will again

renumber those so as I'm looking through

here this is looking pretty good looking

pretty accurate here are a few style and

formatting considerations you may need

to think about as you're getting your

outline prepared and ready to print

first of all it's really important to

understand that you should never have

just one subtopic at a given level you

either need to have two or more

subtopics or you can include the details

of the single subtopic in the broader

topic above it so for example under

letter B where I say examples and I say

The Hunger Games I either need to have

two examples so for example Star Wars or

I need to include The Hunger Games

just in item B so I could say example

The Hunger Games but I don't want to

have just one item sitting by itself

just like this so I'm gonna add Star

Wars again and that will help the second

thing is that these are intended to be

notes not full sentences so you should

not be using any full sentences you

should only be using phrases and single

words so if you use a phrase or a single

word you can see that each line each

topic starts with a capital letter but

unlike a normal sentence that does not

end with any kind of punctuation so none

of these things end with punctuation but

they do all start with a capital letter

the last thing is just for making things

look nice you're going to want to set

the spacing to one and a half spaces how

do you do that well I would select all

the items in your outline and I would

find this button up here that talks

about line spacing and you can click on

that and pick one point five that

spreads it out a little bit without

making it too spread out so one and a

half spaces is a good amount of spacing

I would also double check that all your

font sizes and font types are uniform if

you did any copying and pasting from a

website which you generally shouldn't be

doing but if you did sometimes you bring

over the format

that was on the website and it kind of

messes up the way it looks on this page

so again you could go to the edit menu

select everything and then just make

sure you've picked one standard font

like Arial or Times New Roman and pick

out size 12 and then everything on this

page will be uniform