Numbered Lists — Part IV Numbered Steps

To number steps in a document, you can keep it simple by just clicking the Numbered List button in the Control panel to number the current paragraph. And when you want to restart numbering for a new set of steps, just Alt/Option-click the Numbered List button and change the Start At number to 1. That may be a fine approach if you have only one or two sets of steps, but if you have more, you’ll want to automate your layout with styles.

Let’s suppose your text layout looks something like this:


What’s the best way to restart numbering?

The numbering needs to be restarted after the “To insert a gadget” head step. One way to do this is to create two different styles for steps, such as “Steps Begin” and “Steps Continue.” That’s a perfectly fine approach. But in this document, we know that steps appear only after a “Head Step” style, so let’s take advantage of that.

Step 1 – Define a list

Whenever you’re creating styles for numbered lists of any sort, you’ll want to define a list for the type of numbering you want to create. Defined lists help you keep the different kinds of numbering organized in buckets so that numbering in steps, figures, tables, and headings don’t interfere with each other.Choose Type > Bulleted & Numbered Lists > Define Lists. Click New, and type the name of the list, such as “Numbered Steps.” In our example, we don’t want step numbering to restart. Deselect “Continue Numbers across Stories,” and click OK.


Define a list

Step 2 – Determine the best style approach for your layout

In this document, we always include a Head Step style before a set of steps, so we’re going to take advantage of that. The two key styles we’ll be working with are Head Step and Step.


In this example, the Head Step style always precedes numbered steps

Step 3 – Define the Head Step paragraph style

We’re going to make the Head Step style the first level in the defined list, and we’re going to turn off numbering. When you create or edit the style, click the Bullets and Numbering section, and then choose the defined list from the List pop-up menu and set the Level at 1. Choose None for Format and clear the Number field. From the Mode pop-up menu, choose Start At, and specify 1. Click OK.


Paragraph style for heading that precedes steps

Step 4 – Define the Step paragraph style

When you create or edit the style, click the Bullets and Numbering section. Choose the list you defined from the List menu, and specify level 2. To make sure all the lines in each paragraph are indented, specify a Left Indent amount (such as 2p0) and then specify a negative First Line Indent value (-2p0).


Paragraph style for steps

Step 5 – Apply the styles to the text

The numbering in the paragraphs to which you apply the Step style should increase automatically until the next Head Step style restarts the numbering at 1.

3 Responses to Numbered Lists — Part IV Numbered Steps

  1. Dear Bob:Very useful series. If you have the time, could you take a look at the thread I’m wondering if there’s a better way to do the “(2a)” style x-ref.Best,Graeme Forbes

  2. Zita says:

    It’s a very useful tip, thanks a lot! 🙂

  3. Daniel España says:

    I have a problem trying to make a numbered list on a paragraph with numbers in a interval of 5 on 5; someone can help me i’m using indesign CS5.5