Multilevel lists: customised List Styles versus List Library templates

Multilevel lists are a great way to present information within your Word documents.  And although Word offers an array of multilevel list ‘templates’ which are quick and easy to use, these aren’t necessarily the most efficient and/or consistent way for creating lists.

Multilevel lists gallery in Word

The Multilevel List gallery contains a number of sections as follows:

  • Current List: this, I hope, is self-explanatory;
  • List Library: Word’s default multilevel list templates;
  • List Styles: multilevel lists customised to your preferences (of course, none will be showing if they’re yet to be created);
  • Lists in Current Documents: again, pretty self-explanatory.

Given that the List Library and List Style galleries contain unaltered, clean lists, I’d recommend sticking with these two as the base for your multilevel lists.  However keep in mind that, although they look the same, customised List Styles offer a little bit more than what List Library templates do.  This is especially so where List Styles have been set up within a Word template.

As mentioned, List Library templates are quick and easy to use and there’s a number to choose from.  So they’re great where you want to create a list on the fly, or even as a base for a List Style.  But oftentimes, the List Library templates may not offer exactly what you’re looking for.  And while List Library templates can be adapted to your needs, this is something you’ll need to replicate with each new document you create.  So the question really then becomes: do you want to be doing this again and again, or would you rather set and forget?  I personally like to set and forget, and that’s why I use customised List Styles.

Of course, you can create a List Style in any document however a more efficient way to work is to create documents from a Word template that contains your set List Styles.  That’s because, once customised and included within a template, List Styles are then readily available within each new document you create from that template.  And if consistency is as important to you as it is to me, then List Styles are without doubt the better option: because you’ve taken the time to consider and set your company style, you’ll be less likely to stray from it.  Set and forget!