How to Create a Custom Multilevel List Style in Microsoft Word

Make your own multilevel list style in Word with numbers, letters, symbols, or special characters so your list can fit your document style.

Microsoft Word provides a nice selection of styles for creating multilevel lists. But if you’d like one tailored to you, you can make your own.

Here, we’ll show you how to create a custom multilevel list style in Word.

Define a New Multilevel List in Word

Open your document in Word and then head to the Home tab. You can create the new list style whether or not you’ve inserted a multilevel list already.

Tip: If you want to speed up the process or use an existing style to base your new one, place at least one level in your document. Then, continue below.

Click Multilevel List in the Paragraph section of the ribbon and select Define New Multilevel List.

Choose Define New Multilevel List in Word

When the formatting window appears, click More on the bottom left to display the full range of settings you can adjust. These are noted below as Additional settings and are optional.

More multilevel list settings


At the top, you’ll start with the level you want to modify. When you choose a level one through nine on the left, you’ll see that level in bold on the right. You’ll then adjust the settings below for that level.

Pick a level to modify for multilevel lists in Word

Additional settings for the level you’re modifying are on the right side of the window. These include applying the changes if you want to link the level to an existing style, the level to show in the gallery, and the ListNum field list name.

More level settings

Number Format

In the Number Format section, you can begin by choosing a Number style for this level in the drop-down list.

Tip: You’ll notice that you can go beyond numbers and letters using bullets, symbols, pictures, and other special characters if you like. This allows you to combine numbers and symbols in a single list type.

Number format special characters

Then directly above, enter the format for the number or letter. To the right, click Font to select a font style, format, color, and size.

Number format settings for multilevel lists in Word

Additional settings for this section are on the right side. These include choosing a starting number, a restarting number, and if you’d like to use legal style numbering.

More number format settings


In the Position section, choose the Number alignment from Left, Centered, or Right. You can enter a number or use the arrows to choose the Aligned at position. Next, select the Tab indent at by entering a number or using those arrows.

Position settings for multilevel lists in Word

If you want to apply these settings for every level in the list, click Set for All Levels. Confirm or edit the settings and click OK.

Set for All Levels

Additional settings for the position are also on the right side of the window. You can choose to follow a number with a tab character, space, or nothing. You can also add a tab stop and select the position.

More position settings

After making the above adjustments for a level, choose the next level and complete its details the same way. When you finish setting up the new style for your multilevel list, click OK.

Use Your Custom Multilevel List Style

Once you set up the new style, you can apply it wherever you like in your current document. On the Home tab, click Multilevel List, and you’ll see, a section labeled Lists in Current Documents. Simply select to apply it.

Lists in current documents

Tip: If you open a separate Word document, your custom list style will appear in the Multilevel List menu. So you can reuse it in a new document as long as both documents are open at the same time when you start.

Create Your Own Multilevel List Style in Word

It’s always nice when applications like Microsoft Word let you customize things your way. Remember this feature the next time you want a multilevel list with a unique style.

And for more customizations, check out how to create and customize tables, your autocorrect settings, and line numbers in Word.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Mitch

    Over the years of using MSWord, one of the things that has always eluded me is the creation and application of Multi-Level lists. I can create and apply them, but have a problem with controlling them. Mostly preventing the newly created from affecting my basic “Headings” level, establishing earlier in the document. The crux of my dilemma lies with the factors contained within the below list (I was precluded from pasting a screenshot). I would very much appreciate a more in-depth explanation of each of these items if possible.

    Apply changes to:
    link level to style:
    level to show gallery:
    ListNum field list name:

    Much appreciation…


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