How to add Line Numbers in MS Word Document

By default, Word keeps track of every line, word, and character in a document, and displays their numbers when the user demands.

Although Word normally does not display line numbers automatically, you can choose to do so.

For instance, you can ask Word to display line numbers in the entire document or only in some part.

You can also choose to display line numbers at certain intervals, say, at every tenth line as 10, 20, 30, 40, and so on.

Adding line numbers to a document has its advantages, especially for large documents with multiple pages.

This is useful when referring to a specific line or word in a document—like 254th line, or 4th word in the 50th line, and so on.

Just a note before we begin.

If you have tables, figures, or text boxes in your document, Word will count them as single line entities, regardless of how large they are.

Moreover, Word will display line numbers for documents only in the Print Layout, and not in Read Mode or Web Layout.

Let us start adding line numbers to our Word document.

Step #1: Open the Word document

Open the Word document where you want to add line numbers. On the top menu bar click on Layout to change the ribbon.

In the Page Setup section, click on Line numbers. Word opens a drop down menu with several choices:

  • None
  • Continuous
  • Restart Each Page
  • Restart Each Section
  • Suppress for Current Paragraph
  • Line Numbering Options

None—this is the default choice, where Word does not display any line numbering. This is also the choice if you want Word to stop displaying any line number.

Continuous—this choice allows Word to display a continuously incrementing line number on the left side of all lines throughout the document. Note that Word treats tables, images, and text boxes embedded in the document as a single line and numbers them as such.

Restart Each Page—as the choice suggests, Word restarts the numbering for each page.

Restart Each Section—If your document is divided into sections with a section break, Word will restart the numbering on each section, but you must turn on the numbering for each section separately. Additionally, as Word treats formatting of each section separately, you can have different numbering schemes for each of them. Note that Word attaches a line number to the blank line as well. 

Suppress for Current Paragraph—If you have already adorned the document with line numbers regardless of page or section, this choice allows Word to remove line numbering from the paragraph immediately after the cursor, and arrange the line numbering for the following paragraphs accordingly.

Line Numbering Options—this option allows setting the defaults for line numbering options in a Word document. Clicking on this option opens a dialog box for Page Setup.

Click on the Layout tab. Click on the down arrow mark on the right of Apply to, to open the choices for where you would like to apply the selections. Word offers three options:

  • This Section
  • This Point Forward
  • Whole Document

This section—the choices you make will apply only to the current section defined by the cursor location.

This point forward—the choices you make will apply to the section immediately following the cursor location.

Whole document—the choices you make will apply to the entire document.

Once you have made your selection, click on Line Numbers to open the next dialog box for Line Numbers. Word offers a number of choices here for adding line numbering and for placement of line numbers:

Add line numbering— Click on this option and ensure a tick-mark is present in the square on the left to allow making further choices.

Start at—this number tells Word how to start line numbering. For instance, setting Start at to 10, tells Word to start line numbering from 10, rather than from the customary 1.

From text—this setting defines the gap in inches or centimeters between the line number and the text in the line. Auto allows Word to make automatic adjustments.

Count by—this setting defines the increment Word uses when numbering lines. Default is 1, implying continuous numbering.

Restart each page—choosing this option sets the default for line numbering to restart on each page.

Restart each section—choosing this option sets the default for line numbering to restart on each section.

Continuous—Choosing this option sets the default for a continuously incrementing line numbering for the document.

Step #2: Close dialog box for line numbers

Once you have made your choices, click on Ok to close the dialog box and return to Page Setup dialog,

Step #3: Return to document

Close this by clicking on Ok to return to the document. By now, Word would have applied your choices of line numbering to your document.


It is easy to display line numbering in a Word document—once you know what type of line numbering you want. Just follow the simple three-step method we have outlined above.

Here is how you can add line number in a google doc.

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