Word 2013

How to Get rid of Manual Paragraph Numbering

How many times have you inherited a document that contains manual paragraph numbering and now you need to add paragraphs to it.  It takes time to renumber everything and frankly just opens up the margin for errors even wider, especially with very large documents. Luckily there is an easier method to accomplish this task.

Follow the steps below to learn how:

You can use regular editing techniques if your paragraphs are very short, meaning not over a single line each. All you need to do is to hold down the Alt key as you use the mouse to select the leading numbers and anything after them (like periods, spaces, or tabs). Press the Delete key, and just those leading characters are deleted.

For the Find and Replace method, follow these steps:

  1. Press Ctrl+H to display the Replace tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.


  1. Click the More button, if it is visible.
  2. Make sure the Use Wildcards  is selected.
  3. In the Find What area, key in (^13)[0-9]{1,}.[^09^32] .
  4. In the Replace With area, enter  \1 .
  5. Click on Replace All.
  6. Close the Find and Replace dialog box.

There are a few things to to be aware of about this technique:

First, it replaces any leading paragraph numbering that start with an Arabic number (1, 2, 3, etc.) followed by a period and either a tab or space. If your manually numbered paragraphs do not follow this pattern, then you will need to modify your search in step 4 above. For instance, if the numbering uses Roman numerals or letters then you’ll need to change what you search for.

Second, the technique assumes that there are no leading spaces or tabs before the number at the beginning of the paragraph. If there might be, then you’ll need to do a separate Find and Replace operation before this one in order to remove all leading spaces or tabs.