2. Customizing Bullet Points

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Add your own touch to your bullet points. Change the symbols in standard bullet points, update the numbering in numbered bullets and fully customize the hierarchy in multilevel bullets.

Lesson Notes

Lesson Goal

Format bullet points to enhance understanding.


When to customize bullet points

Quite often Word’s default bullet points are sufficient. But in some cases, adding customization can be worthwhile.

One case is if you or your audience prefers different icons than the Word defaults. There are a wide variety of other symbols available.

Another is if you have a system for multilevel bullet points. For example, if company uses the multi-level bullet points system of letters as the top level, numbers as the next level and then roman numerals, you’d need to add this in as a customized format.

Lastly, you can change the symbol to add a layer of information on your bullet points. For example, in a list of advantages and disadvantages, a tick could represent an advantage and an X could represent a disadvantage.


How to customize bullet points

The quickest way is to use another preset. To view these, click the small down arrow next to the type of bullet point you want.

You can create a new preset by clicking this down arrow and selecting “Define New Bullet”, “Define New Numbering Format” or “Define New List Style”.

To change the bullet symbol, click the Omega symbol and choose a new symbol. To change the numbering format, in the Number format box, delete the old punctuation mark and add in a new one.

To change the number or symbol in the multilevel list, first choose the level and then click the Omega symbol to change the symbol. To change a level to a number, click the format tab and select numbering. As above, add in a punctuation type with the number.


In the previous lesson, we learned how to structure text using bullet points. In this lesson, we'll format bullet points to enhance understanding. We'll look at three situations where customizing bullet points may make sense. The first is when you want to change the appearance of the bullet points. You may find that your company prefers arrows, squares or some other shape. Next, when working with multilevel bullet lists, you may want to set specific bullets for each step in the bullet hierarchy.

Finally, you may want to separate bullets into different categories by using different bullets to distinguish them. For example, check marks and X's could be used to indicate successes and failures or advantages and disadvantages.

Remember that less is more when it comes to formatting. Only customize bullet points when it enhances the document without undercutting its professional look.

We'll return to Page Two of our case study doc and look at the bullet points we built in the previous lesson.

At present, these bullets are acceptable for a professional document, but we'll add some small personal touches nonetheless. We'll start with numbered bullets. We'll select this list and click the arrow next to the numbering command.

In this case, the other presets all look quite good.

The number and close parenthesis mark is a good alternative to a period, so we'll select it.

Let's also apply our own format. We'll click the down arrow again and select define new format.

We'll then replace the parenthesis with a colon and hit OK.

The parenthesis looked better, so we'll undo this action.

When we click the same down arrow again, the new format we created is now a preset which we can quickly apply later if we'd like.

We'll now select the next set of bullets.

We'll click the multilevel list command and select the fourth preset.

This preset is a little too much for this document, so we'll revert back to the original.

As we can see, the original format is not a Word preset.

We could undo to revert it back, but let's create a multilevel style instead. That way, we can select it from the presets later on.

We'll select define new list style.

This will open a window that gives us some control over the hierarchy of our multilevel list.

We'll click on the omega symbol to bring up the symbols menu.

Word comes packed with a lot of symbols.

Most of them are outlandish we see here, are associated with the Wingdings font.

If we choose the next font up, we just see a selection of Latin letters.

We'll go to Wingdings Two and pick the black circle.

This circle is quite large, so we'll set the font size to six. Next, we'll change the second level, choose Wingdings Two again.

And select the ring.

We'll also change the size to six. Note that from this window, we can change the color of our bullet and add emphasis such as bold or italic.

We can also customize the amount that each bullet indents from the parent bullet. There's no need to change any of these settings for this document, so we'll select OK.

If we navigate back to the multilevel list command, we can see that this format has now been saved as a new preset.

With that, the lesson is complete, as is the portion of this course that covers bullet points. In the next lesson, we'll show you a different way to restructure your text by adding a basic table.