Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I'm trying to find a feature that MS Word likely excludes, but it's worth a shot.

At my job I have documents which must be formatted like so:

REQ 16: The application must open maximized.

REQ 17: The application must have a close button.

Design: The application opens maximized, which fulfills requirement 16. It also has a close button, which fulfills requirement 17.

If I need to insert a requirement in between 16 and 17, currently I just have to insert it, re-numerate everything manually, and update my references manually.

Is there any way to make these numbers actual numbering sequences that word can recognize and reference, rather than just text? Please keep in mind I am not allowed to change the format/syntax at all.

share|improve this question
up vote 3 down vote accepted

In Word 2007, on the Home ribbon, there is a button to use a numbered list, next to it is a drop down where you can define a new numbered list format.

In there you can define what types of numbering to use (ie Arabic:123, Roman i ii v, letters abc or ABC). You can also specify a format for the numbers, such as 1. or a). In this box you can also add arbitrary text such as REQ[space] in front of the numbers.

Once defined, just use this like any bullets and numbering list. Each time you hit return the numbers will increment (in 2007 just hit it again to come out of numbering mode back to normal /body text). After your "Design" section, start a new list (choose your custom one from the drop down) and it will start again from 1, but there will be a formatting icon with a lightning strike on where you can choose to continue from previous list. You can also choose to contiue numbering or restart from [some number] from the right click context menu.

By default, the cross-reference field will include all the arbitrary text, which you may not want. If you toggle the field codes of the cross-ref you can add a \t switch to suppress this, which would look something like this:

{REF  _Ref267645686 \h \n \t}

Note the \h adds a hyperlink (default), \n is the reference to paragraph number. \t suppresses all non-delimeter characters. Note this means if you want "REQ: 1" as your list number, your ref would look like ":1" since ":" is classed as a delimeter in this context, so you may have to choose your prefix text accordingly. After you add this and toggle codes back you need to update the field for it to take effect (just press F9). You could relatively easily write a macro to help automate this addition.

share|improve this answer
This is definitely a step in the right direction. What about enumerations with arbitrary formatting? What if I wanted to write a paragraph like "This is sentence 1. Welcome to sentence 2." where I want word to keep track of the numbering, but no formatting? – Adam S Jul 22 '10 at 17:41
@Adam S: Are you sure that this works? I was going to suggest it too, but when I tried to make a reference within the design part, I found out that it is inserted as "REQ 16", not as "16". So if his sentence has to be like "fulfills requirement 16" and cannot be changed to "fulfills REQ 16", this solution doesn't work. If you got around it, please tell us how. – rumtscho Jul 22 '10 at 18:21
Missed that bit about how it affects the references, updated answer to deal with this – AdamV Jul 23 '10 at 9:58

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.