How to Create a Stylized Numbered List in Adobe InDesign

In Brief...

Numbered lists are created using paragraph options and should then be saved as a Paragraph Style. The numbers can be stylized by creating an associated Character Style to be applied to the numbers.


  1. The first step is to figure out the desired look for the list, then the spacing that will be needed between the numbers and the text. For this example, I decided on larger, bolder numbers using a serif font. I created one line of text with the numbers "00." keyed in manually and styled. Zeros are used because they are almost always the widest numerals. Two zeros were used because the items in the list are more than nine, so they will span to double digits. From the rulers, the approximate spacing can now be determined. This line of text will be deleted once the Paragraph Style has been created.
    Placeholder Text Created for Spacing

  2. Highlight the stylized numbers, then go to the Character Styles Panel and create the style. The image shows the specifications used for this example.
    Character Style Options

  3. Highlight the paragraphs to be numbered, then go to the Paragraph Styles Panel menu and select New Paragraph Style.
    Paragraph Style Panel Menu

  4. In the dialog box, name the style "numbers-continue", then go to the list at the left and click on Bullets and Numbering.
    Paragraph Style Options Dialog Box

  5. Select Numbers from the List Type menu, then select the character style created earlier from the Character Style menu.
    Bullets and Numbering Options

  6. In the Bullet or Number Position section, set the Alignment to Right. The Left Indent is where the text will start. The First Line Indent is the amount of space that should be subtracted from the left indent to determine where the period after the number will be positioned. This was determined in the first step with the spacing placeholder text. Leave Tab Position blank and check Preview to see the options take effect in the highlighted text. Make any needed adjustments to the positions, and when you are satisfied, click OK.
    Number Position Options

  7. Delete the spacing placeholder text from the text frame.

  8. If there will be more than one numbered list in the story, two numbered list styles will be needed to start new lists. With nothing selected in the file, go to the Paragraph Styles Panel and click on the numbers-continue still to highlight it. Then go to the panel menu and choose Duplicate Style.
    Duplicate Style in Panel Menu

  9. Name the style "numbers-first", then go to the Based On menu and select the numbers-continue style created earlier.
    Duplicate Style Options

  10. Go to the list at the left and click on Bullets and Numbering.
    Duplicate Style Options

  11. Select Start At from the Mode menu and enter "1" in the field to the right. Click OK.
    Options for numbers-first Style

  12. This style will be applied to the first paragraph in each new numbered list.
    Completed Numbered List

Author: Kate Cahill

Kate Cahill is a graphic designer, writer, and creative director who has developed content for print and web. As creative director, she has produced award-winning work for agencies focused on the pharmaceutical, and health and beauty aid industries. She has also served as production manager, with responsibility for the successful fulfillment of long-run print contracts. Kate has been delivering training for Webucator clients since 2010. Her enthusiasm for cutting-edge technology, combined with hands-on practical experience, brings an added benefit to her class. Kate teaches real-world techniques and integration of Adobe software, as well as Microsoft PowerPoint to produce a fully-developed and cohesive brand identity.