Fixing Inconsistent Formatting in Numbered Lists

I don’t intend to be very active on this blog for the next few months for double top secret reasons that may or may not have to do with the characters C, S, and 5. I’ll focus on short and sweet posts, like this one.

Here’s a little tidbit from the Format a bulleted or numbered list Help topic.

When you italicize or bold the first word of a bulleted or numbered list paragraph, the formatting is applied to the number as well, making it inconsistent with the rest of the numbering. Like this:


See how the number 3 is italicized just like the first word? That’s ugly. So what’s the solution? Apply a character style to the numbering. Here’s what it says in Help:

By default, bullets and numbers inherit some of their text formatting from the first character in the paragraph to which they’re attached. If the first character in one paragraph is different from the first characters in other paragraphs, the numbering or bullet character may appear inconsistent with the other list items. If this is not the formatting you desire, create a character style for numbers or bullets and apply it to your list by using the Bullets And Numbering dialog box.

Now, back to the fun stuff!

6 Responses to Fixing Inconsistent Formatting in Numbered Lists

  1. lowell says:

    hmmmm…this does NOT tell me how to apply the character style to the number. i can’t even select the number to apply the character style!


  2. Jennifer says:

    Lowell, this may be too late for you but I figured it out.

    Create a new Character style (I named mine “bullet non-italicized”). In the New Character Style dialog box go into Basic Character Formats. Go into Font Style and choose “regular”. Click OK.

    Highlight the whole bullet text. Open the Bullets and Numbering dialog box. Under Character Style select the new character style you just created. Click OK.

    Now go back and highlight the text and italicize it. The bullet should remain un-italicized.

    Hope this works for you too!

    • Lu says:

      This did not work for me. Followed your steps but as soon as I tried to re-bold the start of the list item, the number bolded, too.

    • Lu says:

      My solution is to fake it:
      1. Add a space before the list item.
      2. Bold the first word/s of the list item.
      3. Track the space to -200 or whatever to make the first letter line up with the other items.

      No, not ideal. But still waiting for a real fix.

      • Lu says:

        …oh. Except that when you do that, the period after the list number also tracks negatively into the number.


        Oh well.

    • Lu says:

      OKAY! Got it. Didn’t understand what was meant by “Open the Bullets and Numbering dialog box.”

      The missing step in both explanations above is that you have to create another Paragraph Style for the list, then choose the Bullets and Numbering options in the Paragraph Style dialog box, and there you can set the Character Style to the regular Character Style that you set up before.

      Then apply that Paragraph Style to your list, and it works.