"Continuous Lists Across Shapes"

How To Create A Continuous Numbered List Across Multiple Shapes In PowerPoint

Have you ever had a PowerPoint slide with a list on it that you wanted to make start in one shape and end in another, without the number starting over again at 1?

For example, you are building a marketing presentation in PowerPoint, and you have 8 different objectives that you want to split between two separate pentagons (as demonstrated below), and you want them to be numbered 1 through 8 across both pentagons.

Sample PowerPoint Graphic

The same would be true if you wanted the list of objectives to continue onto multiple slides within your presentation.

The goal is the same, you want to prevent the new numbering sequence from starting over back at 1.

What’s the problem?

The problem is that when using the Number dialog box to create your number sequence, PowerPoint always defaults the numbering sequence within each new shape, text box or table cell (see our post on creating sequential numbering in tables) at the number 1.

Yes, you can manually type the numbers into the objects yourself, but not only is it a colossal waste of your time, it actually messes up the formatting in your slide layout.

So the question is, “how to automatically start a list of numbers within a PowerPoint shape or text box, at a number other than 1”?

Below is both a video and written PowerPoint tutorial depending on what you have time for.

Click here to subscribe and download these slides for FREE.

Keyboard Shortcuts Covered in this PowerPoint Tutorial:

  • ALT, H, N, N to open the Bullets and Numbering dialog box
  • ALT + T  to jump to the “start at” input box

Step #1: Open the Bullets and Numbering dialog box

From the Home tab in your ribbon, select the numbers drop down, and select the Bullets and Numbering option at the very bottom, to launch the dialog box.

Step #1 - Opening the Bullets and numbering dialog box

Step #2: Change the Starting Number of your Bullets

In the lower right-hand corner of the Bullets and Numbering dialog box, you can specify which number you would like your numbering sequence to start at.

NOTE: If this happens to you a lot, I highly recommend learning the keyboard shortcuts into the Ribbon (ALT, H, N, N) to open the dialog box and (ALT + T) to jump to the ‘Start at’ input box.  You can see a demonstration of this in the video tutorial above.

Number Dialog Box Version 1

Formatting Options:

If you want to customize your numbering, you can use the left side of the dialog box to change the size and/or color of your numbers.

Number Dialog Box Version 2

Be Careful Of Manual Adjustments:

This is a manual adjustment in PowerPoint, and like all manual adjustments, you will need to update it again if anything changes. So I recommend only changing your numbering once your slide is finished. If you don’t, you’ll be flipping back and forth having to re-number the different objects over and over again.

And if you frequently need to re-number the lists within your shapes and text boxes (see our post on dealing with tables), I highly recommend memorizing the ALT, H, N, N shortcuts, to fast track through the process.

Ready to learn another trick?

Learn how to create a sequential list of numbering in PowerPoint using Microsoft Excel.

  • Mike Strandberg

    What if you add another entry on the first page? Yeah. Then you have to go and MANUALLY change every page after that. Not a very good solution if you have multiple pages. I guess the POWER in Powerpoint is subjective. 🙁

    • Hey Mike, thanks for the note and you are correct. It’s not a true continuous list as they are in separate objects AND you are right, there is no calculation engine in PowerPoint to auto-correct the numbering. “Power” point could still use a few bells and whistles 🙂

      The fastest way to change the sequencing in your PowerPoint slides is using Excel. Use Excel functions to crank out the correct text / numbering and then paste back into your PowerPoint object as text only.

      Pasting as text only will ensure that the text you paste (from excel) converts to your PowerPoint object formatting so you don’t have to waste time with that.

      If that is new to you check out our other free YouTube videos below dealing with Excel and PowerPoint…they should give you few clever ideas how to shortcut the process (few people know any of these tricks).

      PowerPoint Shapes to Excel: https://youtu.be/QXlDKreqJrw
      PowerPoint Shapes to Bullets: https://youtu.be/fgJUOD75Vw8
      PowerPoint Bullets into Slide: https://youtu.be/QZTTjN-44KM

      Cheers