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Create an Outline (Create a Multi-level List)

Outlines create a hierarchy or mark major concepts in a document. In Word, you can use a multi-level list to create an outline. There are two types of multi-level lists: ones that use styles and ones that do not use styles. In the multi-level list gallery, lists that use styles have the word "Heading" on the gallery button.

If you choose not to use styles, your outline can have up to nine levels. Each indent away from the left margin moves you down a level. For example, if you execute a multi-level list command and begin typing, you are on level one. When you press the Enter key to end the paragraph, you remain on level one. If you press the Enter key and then increase indent once, you move to level two, if you press the Enter key and then increase indent twice, you move to level three, and so on. In other words, to stay on the same level, Press the Enter key. To move to a lower level, press the Enter key and then indent.

To return to a higher level, press the Enter key to end the paragraph and then press the Enter key again to move one level up. When you press the Enter key to end a paragraph and then press the Enter key again, Word automatically decreases the indent. Decreasing the indent moves you up a level.

Word provides several ways to increase and decrease indents. You can press the Tab key to increase the indent or you can press the Shift+Tab keys to decrease the indent. You can click the Increase Indent button in the Paragraph group to increase the indent or you can click the Decrease Indent button in the Paragraph group to decrease the indent. Word has several built-in multi-level list formats that are based on indents and you can create your own.

If you choose to use styles to outline your document, you can also have up to nine levels. Word has nine built-in heading styles. In all of the built-in outline formats, style Heading 1 is associated with Level 1, style Heading 2 is associated with Level 2, and so on. You see the word "Heading" in the gallery entry for multi-level lists that use heading styles. You can create your own multi-level list that uses styles.

Create an Outline (Multi-level List) that does not use Heading Styles

  1. Place the insertion point where you want to start your outline.
  2. Choose the Home tab.
  3. Click the down-arrow next to the Multi-level List button in the Paragraph group and then click the option you want.
  4. Type a level 1 paragraph.
  5. Press the Enter key and continue until you have all your level 1 paragraphs.
  6. Press the Tab key when need to create a level 2 paragraph.
  7. Press the Enter key and continue until you have all your level 2 paragraphs.
  8. Press the Tab key if you need a level 3 paragraph, or press the Shift+Tab keys if you need a level 1 or 2 paragraph.
  9. Continue until you have completed your outline.

Create an Outline (Multi-level List) that uses Heading Styles

  1. Place the insertion point where you want to start your outline.
  2. Choose the Home tab.
  3. Click the down-arrow next to the Multi-level List button in the Paragraph group and then click the option you want.
  4. Apply heading styles as you type your document.

Tip

Using a multi-level list with heading styles has advantages, such as the ability to use the Navigation pane and Word’s outline capabilities.

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