Word: Tab Key Not Changing Levels in Multilevel Lists

Working with a multilevel list in Microsoft Word and your tab key isn’t allowing you to change list levels the way you’d like it to? It’s a frustrating problem, with a solution that is thankfully quite simple.

Go to the ‘File’ tab, and click on ‘Options’. From the list on the left, choose ‘Proofing’. Now, under ‘AutoCorrect options’, click on the ‘AutoCorrect Options…’ button. In the window which appears, click on the ‘AutoFormat As You Type’ tab. Select the ‘Set left- and first-indent with tabs and backspaces’ checkbox. Press the ‘OK’ button twice, and you’re done!

53 comments:

  1. This was driving me completely crazy! THANK YOU SO MUCH!

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  2. Thank you so much! I just got a new computer and I thought it might be broken even before I used it! I use Microsoft office everyday and I use bullets a lot. So not being able to do different levels was killing me!

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  3. any idea how to enable the same feature in Outlook 2010? I navigated to the AutoCorrect window but the "AutoFormat as You Type" tab is grayed out. Thoughts?

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  4. It's greyed out? That's a bit strange. I just tried it on mine, and it works alright. I wonder if maybe you've ended up in a different window than I did. Here's how I got there:

    Went to the 'File' tab, and then clicked on 'Outlook Options'. From the menu on the left, I chose 'Mail'. Then, I clicked on the 'Editor Options' button. From the menu on the left, I chose 'Proofing'. Then, I clicked on the 'AutoCorrect Options' buttons and went to the 'AutoFormat As You Type' tab. Whew! That's a lot of steps. It's in there, though.

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  5. Same steps. I did some further research and lots of users with the same problem in Word. Cause seems to be Office 2007 which has issues when specific applications are not the same version of Office. I'm running Outlook 2010 with Office/Word 2007. Somehow the Outlook AutoCorrect settings are tied to Word and that is causing the greyed out settings in Outlook 2010. Some users resolved the problem by upgrading to Office 2010. Either Microsoft totally missed this compatibility issue or it's a great way to push users to upgrade Office! Tx for your help.

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  6. Forgot to mention that first I checked the settings in Word 2007 as you suggested and ‘Set left- and first-indent with tabs and backspaces’ is checked. But Outlook 2010 isn't pulling in those settings and has them grayed out.

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  7. Interesting - thanks for the follow-up! I don't have different versions running on the same machine, so I never experience that.

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  8. Thank you for posting this! I was having the issue in both Outlook and Powerpoint.

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  9. Oh my gosh. Thank you so much. This was driving me crazy!

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  10. Thank you! COMPLETELY irritating that the default isn't the same as every version ever before... I almost lost it...

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  11. tiiihihi!! thank uuu!!!

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  12. Thanks!

    Kind of wonder why that is no longer turned on by default! Oh yeah, MS knows best!

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  13. You are a life saver! Thank you Stacy!

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  14. This was driving me CRAZY since I use this feature a lot to take notes, thank you so much!

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  15. thank you so very much

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  16. THANK YOU! I HAVE SEARCHED EVERYWHERE FOR AN ANSWER

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  17. I don't know how that setting managed to change itself, but this fix was a lifesaver.

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  18. For Mac users (Microsoft Word for Mac 2011), the process is a little different. Go to the ‘Word’ tab, and click on ‘Preferences’. From the window that appears, choose ‘AutoCorrect’. In the next window which appears, click on the ‘AutoFormat As You Type’ tab. Go down to the 'Automatically as you type' section and select the ‘Tabs and backspace set left indent’ checkbox. Press the ‘OK’ button once, and you’re done!

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    Replies
    1. OMG, thank you so much. Seriously in love with you right now, that was so frustrating to deal with but now it's fixed!!!! :)

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    2. Thank you thank you thank you! No other answer worked for me, and it was getting very frustrating!

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    3. Ah! Thank you so much! Like everyone has said, I don't know how it changed, but it works now!

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  19. Thank you very much for this tip. You saved me hours!

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  20. Thank you! It was making me crazy!

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  21. I wish I was smarter enough to figure that out. I don't think I would have ever figured it out. THANK YOU SOOOOO MUCH~!

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  22. Thank you! I was so frustrated. This simple fix really helped!

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  23. Dude. I love you holly shit this was pissing me off soooooo fucking much. Thank YOU SOOOOOO MUCHHHHHHHH

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  24. Several years later and you're still a huge help with this post! I was majorly stumped on this one.

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    1. Thanks for the feedback! It's always so nice hearing from people and knowing that I've been able to help a bit.

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  25. Thank you for your solution! The internet has a solution to everything!!! - Thanks to people like yourself :)

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  26. Thank you so much, you saved my day!

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  27. THANK YOU!!!!!!! No more swearing needed :)

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  28. When I do this it crashes my word document and then goes back to not working, do you have any idea why?

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  29. THANK YOU! I THOUGHT I WAS LOSING MY MIND!

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  30. WOW!!!!! MEGA SUPER INCREDIBLY HUGE THANK YOU!!

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  31. Awesome! Big help :D

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  32. Wow! Thanks very much. That was totally driving me crazy because it used to work and stopped at some point. Nearly 3 years after your post, the info is still helping people. Thanks for taking the time to put it out there.

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  33. Thank you so much!! Huge, huge help.

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  34. Agreed, this was making me crazy for 3 years. thank you for the easy instruction!!

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  35. I love you. You saved my sanity.

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  36. Thanks! Google and you saved the day!

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  37. OMG.. you just made my life so much easier! thanks

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  38. Same problem, but going through autocorrect > proofing wasn't doing anything for me (all the correct boxes were checked). RATHER, what worked for me was starting a list, right clicking > adjust list indents > check the "Add tab stop" box... wallah! Hope this helps :D

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  39. You, my friend, have saved the world.

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