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I've never understood how formatting works in MSWord for lists... it mostly just works but sometimes becomes incredibly stubborn about enforcing styles you don't want, especially when copy-pasting into a list and working with multiple, multi-layer lists.

What are some good ways to understand how it works, so one can work with Word, instead of fighting against it?

Here's an example... I want a list like:

1)first test
 b)another thing

2)another test
 a)it works 
 b)it doesn't crash

I find Word really doesn't like this... I try creating one mini-list and copy pasting but typically the numbering on the sub-lists doesn't re-start automatically, etc.

I'm using Word 2007 but I remember it being this way in earlier versions too.

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There is a trick you can use to get the result you seek. As I understand it, the problem is that you want some un-numbered text ("Check") and then to be able to continue your list.

In your example after you type the word "test", instead of hitting "Enter" use Shift + Enter. This will drop you down a line without a number. After you type "Check", then hit "Enter" and it will continue the list. Hitting Tab on that line should give you the letter instead of another number.

The idea behind this is that MS assigns numbers or bullets to each paragraph in the list. When you use Shift + Enter, you're creating a soft return instead of a hard return. It is a line break instead of a paragraph break. Therefore you get a new line but not a new paragraph and so MS doesn't assign a new number or bullet. The same thing works in PowerPoint.

When you hit Enter again, you get a new paragraph and a new number.

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Lists are pretty simple, they are just a way of attributing paragraph attributes to your text. Sub-lists are just a matter of indents, where bullets and numbering styles go per indent-level.

Pasting may sometimes break numbering, which is fixed in "Bullets and Numbering..." by setting "Continue previous list", because the copied list might have had "Restart numbering" instead. If it breaks levels, then one uses Increase/Decrease Indent.

When pasting, you get a small floating icon next to the copied text. It can open a menu in which you can select whether to "Continue list" or "Paste as a new list". This is the fastest way to fix a broken numbering sequence.

The above is probably too simplistic to answer the question, so please add to your post an example of a scenario that you would like to discuss.

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A scenario is shown... when I tried this the sub-list (a,b,c) doesn't restart when I copy the whole block. This concept of a continued list of non-continued sub-lists appears to confuse Word, at least based on my attempts to do it in a common-sense fashion. – Mr. Boy Jan 22 '10 at 11:40
@John: I've tried your example and it copies well. I might not have understood the problem. See this screen-capture : . – harrymc Jan 22 '10 at 12:10

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