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When opening the document I am working on in Word 2010 this morning, the number in heading level 1 is a black rectangle:

enter image description here

however, it still look ok in the bookmark pane:

enter image description here

Weird, ey?

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10 Answers 10

  1. Place the cursor just to the right of the black box in any example of the affected heading.
  2. Hit and the black box should turn gray.
  3. Type Ctrl+Shift+S to bring up a style popup.
  4. Click Reapply.

This has worked every time I've had this problem.

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

I solved this after all, I also noticed that someone else was unable to resolve this on a Microsoft forum, so if you read this, here is my solution:

  1. Press properties for Heading 1
  2. Press format, numbering
  3. Chose No numbering. Exit the properties. All numbering will now disappear.
  4. From the "start" pane, press multi-level-list, and then the format that looks like:
  1. Heading 1

1.1. Heading 2

1.1.1. Heading 3

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This problem still occurs in year 2014. But your solution doesn't solve it permanently... Save, Close and Open brings back the black box –  AndroidRookie Mar 4 at 15:05

Thanks so much! these steps worked for me.

1.Place the cursor just to the right of the black box in any example of the affected heading. 2.Hit ← and the black box should turn gray. 3.Type Ctrl+Shift+S to bring up a style popup. 4.Click Reapply.

This has worked every time I've had this problem.

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Some extra help for others with this problem (I still had this working in Word 2013 with an older "compatability mode" document.)

For me, the blacked out numbering was occuring only on "Heading 3". To fix:

  1. Modify style properties for Heading 1 - select Numbering = None
  2. Modify style properties for Heading 2 - select Numbering = None
  3. Modify style properties for Heading 3 - select Numbering = None
  4. Move cursor to text that is formatted as Heading 1
  5. From the ribbon bar, [home]>Paragraph section, select Multi-Level-List. Make sure you choose the option as above with all the Heading names listed (you may see one with first 3 levels missing).
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I have had issues with this as well.

Fix was to select the numbering that is blacked out and setting the font size to something other than blank (I assume that causes the problem). Simple update heading to match selection fixes the rest of the instances.

Good luck.

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It can be fix in the Outline style

Go to

Modify Style => Format => Text effects => Outline style

her the outline style should be 0 pt, which wasnt in my case

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The problem is in your chosen numbering format. Just select Multilevel List for your numbering format instead of Numbering.

Home tab==>Paragraph==>Multilevel List

Then you can see your numbering format in Styles preview too. Hope it works ;)

Arash Moradabadi

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You can resolve this issue by right clicking on Quick Style heading -> rename ... After renaming the problem disapear!

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In Microsoft Word 2010 Leveled Numbering list turns to black box

I searched some forums and got the fix, please follow the below points

  1. Put your cursor on the heading just right of the black box
  2. Use the left arrow key on your keyboard to move left until the black box turns grey
  3. Use the keyboard combination ctrl+shift+s, the dialog "Apply Styles" should appear
  4. In this box, click "reapply"
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I spent around 5 hours trying to fix this problem and was close to pulling my hair out. I tried every fix suggested on the net (creating new multi lists and importing uncorrupted styles etc) and the problem kept returning.

The below seems to have worked for me and I hope it's a permanent solution.

  1. Firstly I did the following as has been suggested by a number of users a) Put your cursor on the heading just right of the black box b) Use the left arrow key on your keyboard to move left until the black box turns grey c). Use the keyboard combination ctrl+shift+s, the dialog "Apply Styles" should appear d) In this box, click "reapply"

  2. Once the black boxes had disappeared I saved the document as a word 1997-2003 document (document 2).

  3. I resaved document 2 as a normal word document (2013 in my case) and selected the compatibility mode option when saving (document 3)

  4. I resaved document 3 as a word document (2013) and deselected the compatibility mode option (document 4).

It seems to have worked and the black boxes have disappeared. I hope this is a permanent fix otherwise I will go back to working on document 2 (word 2003 version).

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