How-to: Enable “retro” tabbed outlines in Word 2007

turn on auto-tabbed outlines word 2007 - click for larger viewAs someone who splits his time between an older XP laptop and a newer Vista (x64) desktop, I’ve generally grown accustom to the slight changes in how each machine operates. However, moving between Word 2003 and Word 2007 is a whole other story.

Take creating a simple “tabbed” outline (a.k.a. a multilevel list), for example. In the good old days (Word 2003 and earlier), to start an outline/list, all one would have to do was either select the type (bullets, numbers, roman numerals, etc) from the menu at the top or type a number/letter/etc and make a hard return. Once on the next line, simply striking ‘Tab’ would provide the next, indented level in the outline/list (i.e. I > 1. > a.).

Well, leave it to Microsoft to (secretly) turn that feature off by default in Word 2007. After wasting a solid 10 minutes trying to indent my outline (and realizing that it was forcing a “plain” indentation), I finally took the time to figure out what was up.

Here’s the quick fix: click the MS Office button in the upper right corner > Word Options > Proofing > AutoCorrect Options > AutoFormat As You Type > check the box next to ‘Set left- and first-indent with tabs and backspaces’ > OK > OK > done. Happy outlining / multilevel list making!