Suppose I have a list as plain text. What is the fastest way to have word recognize it as a list and format it properly? So far I've been doing it manually, but this is not feasible with large documents.

Left: what I have
Right: desired

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Select it all and apply the style of your indented text. Then do wildcard find and replace, searching for lowest numbering eg 8.1.1 would be ([0-9]@.[0-9].[0-9]@ )(*)- and replace with your style and \2 (to keep text after number and space). Step through and replace individually, don't do replace all as if you have text references to numbers within your paragraph text they would be incorrectly replaced as well. Then repeat for 8.1 level then 8. level.

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