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Toolbox for WordPerfect

Macros, tips, and templates for Corel® WordPerfect® for Windows®
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Page updated Mar 27, 2019

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How to create automatically numbered document headings in WordPerfect

Section 1: How to create automatically numbered (or lettered) single-level heading styles.

Section 2: How to combine multi-level Outline numbering with a default or custom heading style to create automatically numbered multi-level heading styles (or any style of multi-level auto-numbered headings).

Related pages on this site:

•  Basic information about styles, and links to related pages on this site

•  Using, creating, and modifying outlines

•  Automatic paragraph numbering, outlines, and numbered (or bulleted) lists)

•  Saving, retrieving, removing custom styles

•  Using WordPerfect counters 


It is often useful to separate sections of a document with headings, such as the one at the top of this column, which typically are short phrases or a sentence or two, set off in a format that makes them more visible than ordinary body text.

[Note: Headings are not the same thing as headers: see here for more.]

WordPerfect comes with five standard Heading styles (Heading 1 - Heading 2) that suit most purposes, and they are readily available from a drop list on the Text property bar or by clicking Format, Styles. You can choose the Heading style from the list, type the actual heading you wish to use, and press <Enter> to start typing body text. Or you can select a previously typed document heading and then apply the Heading style to the selection.

These standard Headings create paired paragraph format codes in the document surrounding your heading's text. These codes are container-like structures that tell WordPerfect how to format the current heading text, and how to include the heading's text in a Table of Contents, if one is used. (If there's a Heading in your document, you can double-click its [Style] code in Reveal Codes; the structure and formatting are shown in the Styles Editor for that particular Heading style. More on this later.)

However, standard Headings lack an automatic numbering feature -- but automatic paragraph numbering in a WordPerfect document can still be accomplished in at least two ways:

[A] You can use a built-in Outline (with Insert, Outline/Bullets & Numbering), and toggle it on and off as needed as explained here. While this produces a variety of useful numbering, lettering, and bulleting schemes -- often in a multi-level format -- using them as document headings is sometimes less than satisfactory since they probably need extra formatting (e.g., bold, large, centered) and they do not contain the necessary codes to include the heading's text in a Table of Contents (though they can be added). The latter is almost always a good thing: you never know when a document will require a Table of Contents. [See Section 2 for using an Outline for automatically numbered headings; otherwise, to use Heading styles continue reading.]

...Or probably more flexible and useful for most users:

[B] You can modify a built-in Heading style to create a custom style, which can include special codes to handle automatic numbering, include the heading's text in a Table of Contents, and so forth. Or you can create custom Heading styles to do the job.

Using the second method -- and for our purposes here -- you can create two basic styles.

The first (single-level) method is easy to use and should suffice for most purposes.

The second (multi-level) method is a bit more advanced, and probably is more suitable for the legal or technical writing professions.

Both styles can be saved in your default (or other) template for future use. They are described in two sections on this web page (below):

Section 1: How to create automatically numbered (or lettered) single-level heading styles (as well as a hybrid of the single- and multi-level style).

Section 2: How to combine multi-level Outline numbering with a default or custom heading style to create automatically numbered multi-level heading styles (or any style of multi-level auto-numbered headings).


If you want custom headings such as the ones described here to automatically appear in a Table of Contents, you will need to "mark" them in a special way, and then create (i.e., define and generate) the Table of Contents in your document.

For instructions, see the section entitled How to "mark" a custom text style for automatic inclusion of its text in a Table of Contents here.

Section 1 -
Create automatically numbered (or lettered) heading styles.

While it is certainly possible to use either a formatted single-level Outline or the multi-level method below in Section 2 to create single-level automatically numbered headings, it is often easier, less problematic, and more reliable to do this by adding a WordPerfect counter (via the Insert, Other, Counter menu) to a new or existing heading style. [For more on WordPerfect counters see here.]

For example, after creating a counter for the heading you could then create this type of single-level heading style, where the counter takes care of maintaining the proper sequence of the letters (A,B,C...), and the heading is automatically set up to be included in a Table of Contents (if used):

Example 1 - A single-level heading style with automatic letters on the left

A. This is a heading
Normal text
Normal text
Normal text...
B. This is another heading
Normal text
Normal text
Normal text...
C. This is yet another heading

Or this single-level heading style, which uses Roman numerals following a standard text label:

Example 2 - A single-level heading style with automatic numbers on the right

Section I
Normal text
Normal text
Normal text...
Section II
Normal text
Normal text
Normal text...
Section III

Notes and tips

¤  The counter that displays the numbers can be an upper/lower case letter (A,B,C..., a,b,c...) or Roman numeral (I,II,III..., i,ii,iii...) as well as an Arabic numeral (1,2,3...).

¤  The number can follow the Heading text as well as precede it.

¤  Moreover, Headings do not have to be centered. In fact, you can format them almost any way you like.

¤  You can even make copies of the standard Heading styles (Heading 1 - Heading 5) and modify them to include counters.

At this point, if all you need is a single-level heading like the ones in the above examples, skip down to the Procedure section.

Here's another example of a single-level heading style that also makes use of WordPerfect's Outline feature. Think of it as a hybrid: it is half-way between single-level numbered/lettered headings and the multi-level numbered headings discussed in Section 2 below. [Thanks to Maggie Holman at WordPerfect Universe for the next example, suggested in a thread posted 10/3/06.]

During document creation or editing, you can intersperse the automatically lettered headings shown above with standard automatic paragraph numbering provided by QuickBullets. This creates a "two-level" style, where letters and numbers automatically increment. For example:

Example 3 - A hybrid style

A. Heading
1. Normal text ("level 2")
2. Normal text ("level 2")
3. Normal text ("level 2")
B. Heading
4. Normal text ("level 2")
5. Normal text ("level 2")
C. Heading


In actual use, for this example you would simply click the Select Style drop list on the Text property bar to insert the new auto-lettered paragraph style (level 1), type the heading, and then click a shortcut key to start (and stop) auto-numbered paragraphs in the intervening sections (level 2). You could also use an outline (Insert, Outline...) to number or bullet the lower-level items. The numbered items, however, won't show up in a Table of Contents without special treatment.

Alternatively, you could use a different style-with-counter for the second level of headings, as noted below.

Examples 1 and 3 use upper case letter counters (A,B,C...) inside customized heading styles. The letters automatically increment each time the style is applied in the document, and maintain proper sequencing if you insert of delete some headings. You can also create similar styles using counters based on numbers or Roman numerals, as in Example 2.

You can even create several such styles to simulate an Outline scheme by creating the necessary heading styles for each "level' -- each style containing the appropriate counter (Roman, letter, number, etc.). However, be aware that these styles will not act like an outline: You can't demote or promote levels with <Tab>/<Shift+Tab>, hide levels, etc.., as you can with an Outline. To make auto-numbered heading styles act like WordPerfect Outlines, you should combine multi-level outline numbering with a style, as explained in Section 2 below.

If the headings should appear in a Table of Contents they will need to be "marked" with special format codes inside the style (for the general method see here). This can be done when you first create the style or at any time later (but before the TOC is generated in that document).

Procedure - How to use a counter inside a Style for the first heading's "level" and (optionally) a numbered Outline for a second heading's "level."

Note that if you don't need the optional second level of numbering demonstrated in Example 3 above, just follow Steps 1-3 and skip step 4. (In either case, please read the Tips below.)

  • For the first level, you'll need to create a custom style (or modify a standard Heading style by editing it; see the Tips below) and place a counter in it.
  • For the second level -- if you use it (see Step 4 to create it) -- you can use WordPerfect's built-in automatic numbering, which is simply an Outline style's numbering feature.

Here's how to do it.

Step 1. Create the counter first.

Click Insert, Other, Counter, Create. In the Create Counter Definition dialog, give the new counter a name (e.g., Letters). In the "Single level method" field, choose "A,B,C" to use capital letters for the first level of your outline list. Click OK, then Close.

Step 2. Next, create the custom style you want to use for an auto-numbered Heading, and insert the counter in it.

Click Format, Styles, Create. The Styles Editor appears. Give the style a unique name (e.g., ABC Heads, NumbHead 1, etc.) and a description. Set the "Enter key..." field to <None> (you probably want the cursor to go back to body text when you press Enter), and set the Type to Paragraph.

In the Contents pane, type any (optional) label (e.g., the word "Section" in Example 2 above), then insert the counter you just created in Step 1 above:

From the Styles Editor menu, click Insert, Other, Counter, and make sure the new counter is selected, then click the "Display in Document" button.

Again, click Insert, Other, Counter, and make sure the new counter is selected, but this time click "Increase."

You should now have two codes in the Contents field:

[Count Disp][Count Inc] -- in that order.

[The idea is to make WP display the number, then (internally) increment it for any counter number that may follow later in the document.]

Next, add any desired centering, attributes (Bold, Large, etc.), or spaces before or after these codes. (Generally, to center the heading you would place the cursor before all material in the Contents pane and use the Styles Editor menu's Format, Line, Center.)

As noted, add any desired text label such as "Article" or "Section" and any space characters to separate the label from the counter codes.

You can add tabs or indents after the counter codes from the Styles Editor's menu: click Insert,Tab or Format, Paragraph, Indent.

You can force the style to separate the counter codes from what will become the next line -- the heading's text -- with a hard return by pressing <Enter> after the counter codes.


Don't worry about making it perfect at this point. When you test the style you can double-click the [Para Style] code in Reveal Codes to bring up the Styles Editor again.

Click OK, then Close. You should now be back in the main document.

Test the style in the current document: See Step 3.


1. Before exiting the current document, you might want to save this new custom style to your default or other template as explained here.

2. To mark this style for inclusion in any Table of Contents, see here.

3. You can cross-reference the item later by its Counter number with Tools, Reference, Cross-Reference, and use "Counter" as the Reference Type. When you Mark the item's text you should place the [Target] code where it generates the proper number for that item. (Recall that the [Count Inc] code increments the counter number for any following Counter.)

Step 3. Apply the new auto-numbering heading style from the "Select Style" drop list on the property bar (or use Format, Styles).

Then you can either -

  • Type some text for this first heading. (You can also select body text first, then apply the heading style to the selection.) After some text is made part of the heading, press <Enter> to go to the next line (i.e., to the body text area). You can then press <Tab> or insert a Left Indent (with <F7> or <F4>), if desired, to indent the body text for that section of the document.

Or -

  • Don't type any heading text. Instead, immediately move out of the heading style with the <RightArrow> key -- which simply functions to skip over the second part of the [Para Style] code -- and type your paragraph text in the body text area.

When you need the next auto-numbered heading, repeat the process by selecting the heading style from the "Select Style" drop list on the property bar (or use Format, Styles).

Step 4 (Optional). At this point you can automatically number the new "second-level" paragraphs underneath the "first-level" headings.

To number the second-level paragraphs you can immediately click Insert, Outline/Bullets... "Numbers 2," or simply press the default shortcut key, <Ctrl+H> (or <Ctrl+T> for those who use the DOS keyboard). This starts paragraph numbering.

Enter as many items for this second level as desired. The <Enter> key will "chain" the paragraphs together, numbering each sequentially when you press <Enter>. You can use <Ctrl+Shift+L> to insert line breaks; this allows suspending automatic numbering inside a numbered item. (This trick works in all WordPerfect Outlines.)

Use the same shortcut key (e.g., <Ctrl+H>) to turn the outline numbers off before starting a new auto-numbered level 1 heading (e.g., "B...").

Whenever you need the auto-numbering level 1 heading style in the body text area, simply apply the style from the "Select Style" drop list on the property bar. The letters (in our example scheme) will increment. If you want to continue level 2 paragraph numbering, use the shortcut key again.


  • You can create custom headings by making copies of existing heading styles (such as Heading 2) with Format, Styles, <choose the Heading 1 style>, and click Options, Copy, Current document. (You can always copy it to the default template later, after testing it.) Edit the new style and insert the counter codes in it as explained above.
  • Since the outline numbering used for the second level is separate from the new style-plus-counter, you can use any Outline/Bullets scheme for the second level.
  • To automatically and quickly create the following five counters in any document or template ...

Lev1Numbers (Numbers: 1,2,3,...)
Lev1LettersLC (Letters, lower case: a,b,c,...)
Lev1LettersUC (Letters, uupper case: A,B,C,...)
Lev1RomanLC (Roman numbers, lower case: i,ii,iii,...)
Lev1RomanUC (Roman numbers, upper case: I,II,III...)

Right arrow ... download and play the CounterCreator macro. Using this macro, the counters that are created in the document can then be inserted in any style using the method explained in the above link, Use a counter.... (Also see the information at the top of the macro's code, which explains how to set up custom styles to use any of the counters.)

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Section 2 -
Combine multi-level Outline numbering with a default or custom heading style to create automatically numbered multi-level heading styles (or any style of multi-level auto-numbered headings).

Q: Can someone tell me how to automatically number document section headings with centered "legal style" numbers and text? I want to be able to set each section number according to the level of the section. I also want to be able to insert or delete section Headings and Sub-headings and have the numbers of the other items change to maintain sequential numbering.

What I want is something like this:

Example 4 - A multi-level heading style using legal numbering

Normal text
Normal text
Normal text...
Sub Heading (level 2)

Normal text
Normal text
Normal text...

Normal text
Normal text
Normal text...
Sub Heading (level 2)
Normal text
Normal text
Normal text...
Sub Heading (level 2)


A:  I think you are asking how to combine a format style (such as used in Heading 1, Heading 2, etc.) with a numbering outline (such as the Legal outline).

While early versions of WordPerfect for Windows let you add paragraph numbering (via a special paragraph numbering code) to a standard or custom Heading style, later versions have problems with this method. After you insert the numbering code inside the style code, you then must remove extraneous codes from the Heading style, and then you must properly relocate another [Outline] code.

Besides the bother of remembering how to do this, you might still not get what you need, depending on the type of numbering you use.

HOWEVER ... it should be nearly as easy, almost as fast, and probably more reliable to do the reverse: add paragraph formatting (large, bold, centering, etc.) to what is essentially a numbered "heading."

This produces something similar to the second example in Section 1 above, but with a significant difference: all levels can be demoted, promoted, etc. -- just like any Outline.

One clue to how this can be done is to look at the codes (in the Reveal Codes window) when you click on Insert, Outline/Bullets..., Legal format, OK. The "legal number" outline that is inserted is composed of decimal numbers linked to the system paragraph styles named Legal 1, Legal 2, Legal 3, etc. (Edit the Legal number outline and you'll see these styles adjacent to the numbering scheme. I.e., '1.1.1' is linked to Legal 3 style.)

Now, if you double-click the [Para Style: Legal 1] code in Reveal Codes, you'll get the Styles Editor for Legal 1. If you then add a Bold and Very Large format at the beginning of the string of codes in the Style Editor's 'Contents:' field, then click OK, all top-level (i.e., "Heading 1"-type style) paragraphs in the current document will be numbered 1, 2, 3, etc., in bold/very large font. Second- and subsequent-level paragraphs can be similarly modified to resemble Heading styles -- or any custom style that suits your needs.

How to create and use automatically numbered headings

The PDF file below contains three samples that demonstrate this technique: Legal-, Standard-, and Roman-style numbered headings. (The latter two use the Level styles, not the Legal styles, to produce their numbering styles.)

You can also make as many copies of the custom heading as you like, each for a different purpose, and copy them to a template, another computer, or even another (recent) version of WordPerfect. This is explained in the following PDF file:

Automatically Numbered Headings is a PDF file (115 KB; rev. 9/30/06) that you can read here online (left-click the link) or download it (right-click the link).

Tip (WordPerfect 9 and later versions):

Once you create such custom-numbered headings in a document using a Legal outline style, you can change the numbering to skip any first level numbers (1,2,3, etc.) and use only all second-level numbers (1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 3.1, etc.). See here.

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