Google Docs – Making bulleted & numbered lists

Lists are great for summarising points and showing the order of something concisely. Docs gives you various ways you can present lists. These can be the classic bullet points or can be numbered in different ways to suit your text. Here we’ll look at:

  • Basic lists (bulleted & numbered)
  • Making sub-lists
  • Other list formats
  • Adding spacing to lists (line spacing)
  • More bullets
  • Restart numbering

Making basic lists (bulleted and numbered)

The quickest and simplest way to add a list is to select your points and go to the toolbar. There are two main options to choose from, numbered lists (numbers in a variety of formats) and bulleted lists (symbols).

Numbered list

Let’s start with the default numbered list. Click on the numbered list icon in the toolbar. Your list will now be numbered.

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Bulleted list

Selecting your text again, then go to the Bulleted list icon in the toolbar, produces a list with the default bullets.

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Making sub-lists

having all your points in a row is a bit limited and often we have points that are related to other points. So, what we want to do is indent the points that are related to the points above it, a little bit like branches on a tree, the little ones are connected to the bigger ones, etc.

Let’s start with a list that has had bullets added to it.

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Now let’s indent the points we want to make sub-lists, i.e. move them to the right. To do that we click just before the first letter of the first word. Then we press the “tab” key. Pressing it once, moves the point to the right, pressing twice moves it two spaces to the right, and so on.

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Here’s the whole list with the points moved. It’s much clearer than the original list.

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Other list formats

Docs has other list formats to choose from and the format changes if you add sub-lists. Here’s a summary of all the set options.

Numbered lists

Select your text but this time click on the triangle to the right of the Numbered list icon. You have a choice of 6 formats; the top left one is the default one.

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Here they are added to the list above:

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Bulleted lists

Similarly, if you click on the triangle next to the Bulleted list icon, you have a choice of 6 bulleted points; again the top left one is the default.

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Here they are added to the list above:

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Adding space to lists

So far our lists are with points that are together, but what happens if we want to space them out a little. Let’s see what happens if we just put a space after each line and then add the list.

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As you can see, Docs also thinks that the spaces are points too and adds them to the list. We can go in and delete those bullets, but that’s a bit of a pain to do, so let’s do it a better way.

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Let’s go back to our original list and this time we’re going to change the line spacing. Select your points and click on the “Line spacing” icon in the toolbar.

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This opens the options. By default, the line spacing is set at single, meaning there are no spaces between the lines (or at least it’s the minimum). Let’s change that to “Double”.

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Now we can see that there is space in between each point, but this time without the bullets on the space lines.

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More bullets

We have even more options when it comes to bulleted lists. We can add any character we want as a bullet.

Click on your list but don’t highlight the text. Then go to the “Format” menu, then “Lists”, then “List options”, then “more bullets”.

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This opens the “Insert special characters” dialogue box, where you have a wealth of symbols to choose from. Click on a symbol and in the document, the bullets will automatically change to that symbol.

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Click on the “Symbol” menu in the dialogue box and you can change it to a whole host of symbols, e.g. emoji.

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Restart numbering

By default, the numbered lists start with 1, but there are times when you want to change this, for example, you may have two lists and you want the numbers to continue across the two lists.

Here we have the two lists, and as you can see the second list starts with 1, but I want it to continue from the previous lists, so I need to change it to start with a 6.

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Go to the “Format” menu, “Lists”, “List options”, and then “Restart numbering”.

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Type in 6 in the box.

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The second lists now looks like it continues from the first one.

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eBooks now available on Drive, Forms, Sheets, Docs, and Slides:

  • Join the Google Slides Tips Google Space (for now: personal accounts only)

Baz Roberts (Flipboard / Twitter / Google+)


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