How do I create a countdown list (ie: reverse order) in Microsoft WORD?
January 2, 2015 8:38 PM   Subscribe

I have a very simple list (just one numbered item after another: 1-2-3-4 etc) that I would like to view in reverse order (4-3-2-1). I'm using Microsoft WORD 2003. Everything about WORD's basic "Bullets and Numbering" formatting is fine for my purposes ... except this one issue. I'm assuming there's an easy workaround but I haven't found it.
posted by philip-random to Computers & Internet (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This tutorial appears to to do what you need it to do.
posted by buttercup at 8:55 PM on January 2, 2015

I think there's no easy workaround, but I can find other people doing it with a bunch of complicated stuff with macros and/or seq fields when I google. Since I don't have Word 2003 I can't verify what does or does not work from these suggestions.
posted by aubilenon at 9:09 PM on January 2, 2015

Can you use this and paste back into Word?
posted by michaelh at 9:19 PM on January 2, 2015

Response by poster: thanks all.

I tried buttercup's tutorial (complicated indeed as it's for a later version of Windows),and everything works until I finally get the list back into WORD .... at which point, though it has all the numbers in the right descending order, it no longer behaves as a numbered list. In other words, I can't easily insert a fresh line and get it to keep track of the reverse numbering. It just gives me a blank un-numbered line, which isn't going to solve my overall problem.

The same is true with michaelh's textmechanic link. A much quicker process to reverse the order, but the same result once back in WORD. It won't behave as a reverse order numbered list.


On to aubilenon's complicated stuff ...
posted by philip-random at 9:34 PM on January 2, 2015

Response by poster: ... which, it quickly becomes evident, is more complication than my middle-aged non-programmer's brain can reconcile.
posted by philip-random at 9:37 PM on January 2, 2015

Personally, I would copy and paste it into Excel. Change the sort so it's descending instead of ascending and then paste it back into Word. You may need to do a special paste to preserve formatting, or do a text-only paste depending on what you want. But many times pasting stuff in and out from Excel works fine.

edit: I may have misunderstood. The items are numbered but they aren't numbers themselves? It may not sort the way you want in Excel, depending on whatever it is. Hmm. Sorry. Might help folks to know which version of Word you have, in case we have any superusers here. On google I stumbled upon this thread if the suggestion here helps.
posted by AppleTurnover at 9:37 PM on January 2, 2015

Response by poster: the problem with the Excel trick is, though flipping it to descending order is very easy, the numbering doesn't flip with it. In other words, though the various items are now in reverse order, it's still #1 at the top. I want #1 at the bottom of my list.

And even if, when I paste the text back into Word from Excel, the numbers aren't showing.
posted by philip-random at 9:53 PM on January 2, 2015

Response by poster: And then some mucking around with AppleTurnover's link leads me (via a few more links) to this nugget:

Word has no provision for numbering in reverse order. But you can set up a semiautomatic numbering sequence using a combination of formula, SET and SEQ fields

In other words, this solution is beyond my grasp.

So again, just in case anyone else has an alternate insight. I want to do two things:

1. reverse a list so that it starts high and ends low (5-4-3-2-1)

2. have this reversed list continue to behave as a proper WORD list -- specifically, allowing me to insert a fresh line and have the numbering reflect it. So if I inserted a new line between 5 + 4, the existing 5 would bump up to become 6 and the new line would be 5.

And to be clear -- I'm using WORD 2003

posted by philip-random at 10:08 PM on January 2, 2015

Can you make two columns in excel? One for the numbering and a second column for the values. Then reverse both columns
posted by gt2 at 11:09 PM on January 2, 2015

Response by poster: again, the problem isn't getting the list reversed (there are at least two workable solutions to that so far) -- it's getting this reversed list to function effectively in WORD (ie: track and/or accept insertions, deletions etc). Because the job I have in mind requires this.
posted by philip-random at 1:24 AM on January 3, 2015

Best answer: The thing is, though, that Word doesn't have inbuilt support for countdown lists, so working with them is simply never going to be as smooth and transparent as working with ascending list numbers. Some amount of hackery will be needed. Unless you're willing to come to grips with stuff like SET and SEQ fields, your only realistic option is to number your lists by hand.
posted by flabdablet at 4:28 AM on January 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Creative use of a table, and inserting new rows where necessary, might be a solution.
posted by Dashy at 6:43 AM on January 3, 2015

I don't have an older version of word lying around, but with my current version I would:

Copy list in word
'Paste special' list back into word as unformatted text. This should convert the list to paras, with number [tab] item on each line
C/P to Excel - it should appear as 2 columns
Use the data tab to reverse the ordering
C/P the list of words only back to word
Highlight the whole list
Format > Bullets and Numbering
Select your number format

This generates a new list that you can insert into.
posted by carter at 7:12 AM on January 3, 2015

Response by poster: carter, either A. I did it wrong (but I'm pretty sure I didn't) or B. Word 2003 just isn't up to it, or C. whatever ....

End result. I'm back with the problem of a reverse order list (yay) that won't except inserts as I need it to (ie: I can't add/subtract items to/from it and have it track the changes as a Word numbered list does so smoothly in its default chronological setting.)

Conclusion (though I'm not going to mark it best answer yet because you never know) flashdablet likely nails it with ...

The thing is, though, that Word doesn't have inbuilt support for countdown lists,
Unless you're willing to come to grips with stuff like SET and SEQ fields, your only realistic option is to number your lists by hand.

Which I was planning on doing anyway (numbering by hand) until some friend castigated me for being stubbornly old-school.

I only asked the question in the first place because it seemed that there must be an easy answer. Clearly, there isn't. Thanks all for throwing in. If nothing else, this has been a good exercise for warming up my recently underused "how to communicate succinctly to the Help Desk" muscles.
posted by philip-random at 11:38 AM on January 3, 2015

Sorry to hear that :( Word is a pain at times.
posted by carter at 1:46 PM on January 3, 2015

Ah, this is what I would suggest for Word 2003:

* insert a table made of 2 columns within the word document. You will want the table's lines to be invisible upon print but grayed visible to you in the software
* first column is your numbers and the second is text
* the first column can be used as the ordering sort (just be sure to highlight both columns when you do a sort)
* the second column can now take all your text and be formatted nicely. Be sure to use the table format functions so it all makes sense
* adjust the table to your needs. You can do loads of formatting within the cell and you can add and remove rows in the table.

You can "fake" many things in Word 2003 with tables.
posted by jadepearl at 7:11 AM on March 22, 2015

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