Searching through Automatic Numbering in Word '02
June 8, 2007 10:01 AM   Subscribe

In Microsoft Word (I'm using Word 2002), automatic numbering is when the application numbers items, not you. I've run into a problem with navigating these items. If I am in, say, a 900-item document that's been manually numbered, I can use 'Find' to locate item no. 475. Is there a way to conduct such a search when automatic numbering is in effect, aside from paging through the document?
posted by WCityMike to Computers & Internet (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: automatic numbering is when the application numbers items, not you.

Well, duh.
posted by WCityMike at 10:03 AM on June 8, 2007

Best answer: Well one way is to paste the whole document as text into Notepad or a new Word document (use Paste Special). Then you can search for the numbers.
posted by grouse at 10:04 AM on June 8, 2007

Response by poster: grouse: I'm really asking more for in-Word navigation, not to simply find the number -- I usually need to go to automatically-numbered-item 475 to alter the document. So moving it to another program unfortunately isn't a feasible option.
posted by WCityMike at 10:07 AM on June 8, 2007

Response by poster: (475 or whatever number. It's not always #475.)
posted by WCityMike at 10:07 AM on June 8, 2007

So moving it to another program unfortunately isn't a feasible option.

It may not be exactly what you want, but it takes about two seconds, and once you find where the number you can go back to the original document to modify it. I don't see how this isn't a feasible option. Frankly, it may be your only option, but I'd be happy to see someone post otherwise.
posted by grouse at 10:21 AM on June 8, 2007

Response by poster: It may not be exactly what you want

I use Find as a way of extremely quickly navigating directly to the numbered item at issue.

The way you're suggesting I do it seems to be to copy the entire thing into Notepad, search for the number, note the text of the item in question, go back to the Word document, and search for the item's text.

In the situation where I'm mostly commonly facing this problem, I usually have a marked-up print copy to which someone's made revisions. I need to go directly to that numbered item. I have the text in front of me. I could've been searching for that question text based on the print copy. But both that and paging through the document is a much slower and annoying process when the entire routine has to be repeated for each question I'm trying to locate.

That's why your solution isn't really a workable one for me. But I appreciate the idea and the fact that you responded, anyway.

If it's just a deficiency of Word, then I'll have to accept that; but hopefully, someone might have an idea I've not heard or thought of.
posted by WCityMike at 10:44 AM on June 8, 2007

Honestly, I think it's a flaw in Word. I've had this issue sometimes, and I never found a way to work around it, except doing what grouse suggested, which works, but is still annoying.

posted by misanthropicsarah at 11:16 AM on June 8, 2007

You can zoom way out (View/Zoom) so that many pages are visible at once; I can get up to 6 or 8 while keeping the numbers legible. At least that way you can page through much more quickly, assuming you use a macro or something to zoom out and back in fast.
posted by pocams at 11:18 AM on June 8, 2007

Best answer: Is there any way to use the automatic numbering numbers as the basis for an auto-generated Table of Contents, which would then be clickable? I have no idea, but it might be worth checking out the Word Help for TOC shows a lot of options. Under "insert - index and tables" on MacWord at least.
posted by Rumple at 11:19 AM on June 8, 2007

Best answer: Here's something you can do: Word VBA has an oddly-specific method called "ConvertNumbersToText". If you go to Tools/Macro/Visual Basic Editor, then View/Immediate Window, and in the Immediate window, type:


your numbers will become ordinary, searchable text. I doubt that this process is reversible, but if you're working on the final copy of a document, that may not be a big deal.
posted by pocams at 11:31 AM on June 8, 2007

Response by poster: pocams — appreciate the comment, very muchly, but unfortunately my workplace doesn't allow access to the Visual Basic Editor part of Word. :-/
posted by WCityMike at 11:40 AM on June 8, 2007

I work in a law firm, where there are often numbered-paragraph documents with 100+ pages, and this is a constant problem. As far as I've been able to discover, there's no way to search for a specific automatic number.

I usually scroll by the page (Ctrl-PageUp or Ctrl-PageDown), which moves through even a 100 page document fast.

It's usually possible to search for the text following the automatic number.

I also like grouse's suggestion of making a plain text duplicate, except that I would make it as a new Word document, so I can jump back and forth between it and the auto-numbered version (with Ctrl-F6).
posted by KRS at 11:42 AM on June 8, 2007

Response by poster: KRS — re: this being asked for law firm work — me, too. :)
posted by WCityMike at 11:57 AM on June 8, 2007

Best answer: This may not solve your problem but it's related and might help you or someone else figure out what you can do.

It seems Word has a field code (Insert->Field) called "ListNum" that, when inserted, produces a numbered list just like the automatic numbering. Its main use is to add numbers within a paragraph, as opposed to the normal way which only increments at paragraph breaks. There's also a field code called "AutoNum" that seems to do something similar to the automatic numbering also, but it isn't exactly the same because automatic numbering does NOT appear to be done using fields.

Why this might matter: If you go to the Edit menu, Go To command, it gives you lots of navigation options (unfortunately, none of them do what you want, though I tried...). If you select Field, you can use the field codes like AutoNum and ListNum to navigate. I haven't got the hang of it, though. But it seems like it has potential to be useful for something. Consider this a lead in the case...
posted by SuperNova at 2:42 PM on June 8, 2007

BTW, that was in Word 2003, but I doubt they changed too much about this functionality.
posted by SuperNova at 2:43 PM on June 8, 2007

Best answer: Honestly, I think it's a flaw in Word.

Just reading this thread raises my blood-pressure. Has there ever been anything worse than Word's bullets and numbers function?

My advice: use Outline. Of course, that would mean creating headers that can be tracked in the out;line in the first place (I'm assuming you have headers in you numbered lists)
posted by KokuRyu at 2:56 PM on June 8, 2007

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