I was trying to help a friend with a problem he has using the index of MS Word. The index shows the items with the correct justification, but there are two weird phenomena:

  • The numbering are in descending order, meaning, e.g. "121, 99, 56, 3" instead of "3, 56, 99, 121"
  • For names, the comma is in the wrong position, e.g. "Surname ,First name" instead of "Surname, First name"

I tried searching here and elsewhere, but I couldn't find whether someone has already encountered this problem, let alone found a solution.

Now, this very much looks like a Left-to-Right issue, so I tried a few things related to language settings in:

  • Word's Options
  • The prompt for creating the index
  • The XE codes
  • Start a new document from scratch, and trying to index a few gibberish items (images of this are shown below)

None of this was any help. What I'm looking for is to solve the two problems mentioned above, and do so without needing to manually change every line of index or XE field (unless these are replace-all tricks, which are fine by me).


The gibberish index example: enter image description here

The code used for the name:

enter image description here


So, I wrote:

this very much looks like a Left-to-Right issue

while I actually meant was Right-to-Left.

Here are the links for a good example and a bad example:




I found a (not so nice) workaround that seems to work - if I use find-and-replace and go through every digit using this method:

enter image description here

It fixes the ordering for the numbers in the index, at least until the next time this field is updated. To me, it seems like something in the doc's template/framework is set somehow to Hebrew.

  • Does this happen if Word is started in safe mode? support.office.com/en-us/article/… Can you provide a link to your sample document on OneDrive or DropBox? Dec 13, 2020 at 2:41
  • This is a bit of a shot in the dark, do you have bidi languages (ex.: Arabic or Hebrew) installed? Dec 15, 2020 at 21:47
  • I have Hebrew installed and that's why I tried the language related stuff. Meanwhile, I found out something weird and annoying - if a new file is created with an L2R orientation, then everything goes well (see the "Good" example in the edit, I used one of Word's templates for that). However, if it is created with an R2L orientation, then I get the situation I asked about (see the "Bad" example in the edit, this one is based on the blank doc option). Both docs were edited entirely in English. Still, I couldn't find any other noticeable difference between the files.
    – DannyL
    Dec 18, 2020 at 22:45


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