How to Turn Off Automatic Numbering in Word: A Step-by-Step Guide

Are you tired of Microsoft Word automatically numbering your lists when you’re just trying to jot down some quick notes? It can be frustrating when you’re in a rush, and Word starts formatting things you didn’t ask it to. Don’t worry; turning off automatic numbering in Word is a breeze, and I’m going to tell you how.

Step by Step Tutorial: Turning Off Automatic Numbering in Word

Before we dive into the steps, let’s understand what this will do. By turning off automatic numbering, you can type lists without Word interfering and adding numbers or bullet points automatically. This can make your writing experience smoother and less disruptive.

Step 1: Open the Word Document

Open the Microsoft Word document where you want to turn off automatic numbering.

In this step, you’ll need to navigate to the document that’s giving you a headache with unwanted numbering. If you haven’t already, start by opening Microsoft Word and then open the problematic document.

Step 2: Click on the ‘File’ Tab

Navigate to the ‘File’ tab at the top left of the Word window.

This step is straightforward. The ‘File’ tab is where you’ll find most of the behind-the-scenes settings for your document, such as options for saving, printing, and, of course, turning off certain automatic features.

Step 3: Select ‘Options’

Within the ‘File’ tab, look for and select ‘Options’ near the bottom of the list.

The ‘Options’ section is where you can customize Word to your liking. It’s like the control center for your document’s behavior and appearance.

Step 4: Choose ‘Proofing’

In the Word Options dialog box that appears, click on ‘Proofing’ from the list on the left side.

‘Proofing’ is where Word keeps all its automatic correction features, including spelling, grammar checks, and—you guessed it—automatic numbering.

Step 5: Click on ‘AutoCorrect Options’

Under the ‘Proofing’ section, you will see a button for ‘AutoCorrect Options.’ Click on it.

When you click on ‘AutoCorrect Options,’ a new dialog box will appear. This is where you can adjust all the automatic behaviors that can sometimes get in the way.

Step 6: Select the ‘AutoFormat As You Type’ Tab

In the AutoCorrect dialog box, you’ll see several tabs. Click on the ‘AutoFormat As You Type’ tab.

This tab specifically controls the formatting that Word automatically applies as you type, which includes automatic numbering.

Step 7: Uncheck ‘Automatic Numbered Lists’

Look for the ‘Automatic numbered lists’ option and uncheck the box next to it.

By unchecking this option, you’re telling Word, "Hey, I’ll decide if and when I want to number my lists, thanks!"

Step 8: Click ‘OK’

After unchecking ‘Automatic numbered lists,’ click ‘OK’ to close the AutoCorrect dialog box, then click ‘OK’ again to close the Word Options dialog box.

By clicking ‘OK,’ you’re saving the changes you’ve just made. Now, you can type lists to your heart’s content without Word stepping in uninvited.

After completing these steps, you can type in your document without the interruption of automatic numbering. Your lists will remain plain text unless you choose to number them manually. This gives you full control over how your document looks and feels as you write.

Tips for Managing Automatic Numbering in Word

  • Remember that turning off automatic numbering applies to the document you are currently working on. If you want this change to apply to future documents, you’ll need to adjust the default template settings.
  • Even with automatic numbering turned off, you can still manually add numbers to your lists by using the ‘Numbering’ button in the ‘Paragraph’ group on the ‘Home’ tab.
  • If you change your mind and want automatic numbering back on, simply follow the steps above and re-check the ‘Automatic numbered lists’ option.
  • Keep in mind that automatic bullet points are controlled by a separate option in the same ‘AutoFormat As You Type’ tab. If you want to turn off automatic bullets as well, uncheck the ‘Automatic bulleted lists’ option.
  • If you’re working collaboratively on a document, remember that your settings may not affect others’ settings. Each user may have to turn off automatic numbering on their own device.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I turn off automatic numbering for all future documents?

To turn off automatic numbering for all future documents, you need to adjust the default template settings. This involves opening the ‘Normal.dotm’ template, making the changes outlined above, and saving the template.

Can I still manually number my lists after turning off automatic numbering?

Absolutely! You can manually number your lists at any time by using the ‘Numbering’ button in the ‘Paragraph’ group on the ‘Home’ tab.

Will turning off automatic numbering affect other automatic formatting features?

No, turning off automatic numbering only affects the numbering of lists. Other automatic formatting features, like creating hyperlinks or formatting pasted text, will still function unless you turn them off separately.

Can I turn off automatic numbering for just one specific list in my document?

Yes, you can turn off automatic numbering for a specific list by right-clicking on the list, selecting ‘Numbering,’ and then choosing ‘None.’ This will not affect other lists or the overall automatic numbering setting.

Do these steps work for all versions of Microsoft Word?

These steps should work for most recent versions of Microsoft Word. However, the exact steps may vary slightly depending on your version. Always check the Word help resources for version-specific instructions.


  1. Open the Word Document
  2. Click on the ‘File’ Tab
  3. Select ‘Options’
  4. Choose ‘Proofing’
  5. Click on ‘AutoCorrect Options’
  6. Select the ‘AutoFormat As You Type’ Tab
  7. Uncheck ‘Automatic Numbered Lists’
  8. Click ‘OK’


Now that you’ve mastered how to turn off automatic numbering in Word, you can write with more freedom and less interruption. Remember that this change will only affect the document you’re working on unless you modify the default template settings for all future documents. Microsoft Word is a powerful tool, and customizing it to fit your writing style can significantly improve your workflow and productivity. So go ahead, take control of your lists, and write in peace! If you ever need to revert the changes, just follow the steps again and re-enable the automatic numbering feature. Happy writing!

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