How to Add Line Numbers in Microsoft Word: A Step-by-Step Guide

Adding line numbers in Microsoft Word is a straightforward process. First, you’ll need to open your document, then click on the “Layout” tab. Next, click on the “Line Numbers” option, and choose “Continuous.” And there you have it – your document will now display line numbers on every line.

After you complete this action, each line in your document will have a corresponding number on the left margin. This can be particularly helpful for reference, editing, and collaboration, as it allows you and others to easily locate and refer to specific lines of text.


When working with lengthy documents, especially in a professional or academic context, line numbers become an indispensable tool. They serve as a roadmap, guiding readers through the text and providing an easy reference system for discussions, revisions, and feedback. But why is adding line numbers in Microsoft Word so essential? For one, it streamlines the process of locating information. Imagine trying to direct a colleague to a specific passage in a 50-page document without line numbers—it would be like finding a needle in a haystack.

Line numbers also enhance accuracy when editing or reviewing a document. They allow you to quickly jump to a particular section that may require changes, without having to scroll through pages of text. In legal, technical, or academic fields, line numbers are a standard requirement for documents because they support clarity and precision in communication. Whether you’re a student, a legal professional, an author, or an editor, knowing how to add line numbers to your Word documents is a valuable skill that can save you time and improve the quality of your work.

Step by Step Tutorial: Adding Line Numbers in Microsoft Word

This section will guide you through the process of adding line numbers to your Microsoft Word document. By following these steps, you can ensure that each line of your document is clearly numbered for easy reference.

Step 1: Open your document

Open the Microsoft Word document you wish to add line numbers to.

Opening your document is the foundational step to adding line numbers. It’s as simple as double-clicking on the file or selecting it from the “File” tab within Microsoft Word. Make sure you’re working on the correct document before proceeding to the next steps.

Step 2: Click on the “Layout” tab

Navigate to the “Layout” tab located at the top of the Word window.

The “Layout” tab is where you’ll find all the options needed to adjust the appearance and structure of your document’s pages. It’s like the control center for organizing your document’s layout.

Step 3: Select “Line Numbers”

Click on the “Line Numbers” option within the “Layout” tab.

Under the “Page Setup” section of the “Layout” tab, you’ll find the “Line Numbers” button. This is where Microsoft Word allows you to manage the numbering of lines within your document.

Step 4: Choose “Continuous”

From the dropdown menu, select the “Continuous” option to add line numbers to your document.

By selecting “Continuous,” you’re instructing Word to number each line in the document consecutively, starting from the top. This option is most commonly used and recommended for clarity and consistency.


Easy ReferenceAdding line numbers makes it easier to reference specific parts of a document during discussions or revisions.
Enhances CollaborationLine numbers facilitate clearer communication between collaborators, as they can easily direct each other to specific lines.
Required in Certain FieldsIn some professional fields, line numbers are a formatting requirement for documents, making this knowledge essential.


Cluttered AppearanceFor some documents, especially those with creative content, line numbers might disrupt the visual flow and appear cluttered.
Not Always NecessaryLine numbers may be extraneous for short or informal documents where easy reference is not a priority.
Limited CustomizationMicrosoft Word offers limited options for line number customization, which might not meet everyone’s needs.

Additional Information

While the steps mentioned above will get you line numbers, there’s a little more to it if you want to have a bit more control over how they appear. You can customize the numbering to restart with each new page or section by choosing the relevant options under the “Line Numbers” menu. You might also need to adjust the document’s margins to ensure the numbers don’t overlap with the text.

Plus, if you’re dealing with a document that has a table, text box, or a figure, you’ll notice that line numbers don’t appear next to these elements. In such cases, you may need to add line numbers manually or adjust the layout of these elements. Remember, while this feature is handy, it’s not without its quirks, so a little patience and experimentation with the settings can go a long way.


  1. Open your document.
  2. Click on the “Layout” tab.
  3. Select “Line Numbers.”
  4. Choose “Continuous.”

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I add line numbers to only a specific part of my document?

Yes, you can select the text you want to number, then follow the same steps and choose “Line Numbers Options” to apply numbering to that particular section.

How do I remove line numbers?

To remove line numbers, go back to the “Line Numbers” option in the “Layout” tab and select “None.”

Can line numbers be added to headers and footers?

No, line numbers in Microsoft Word are only added to the main body of the document.

Will the line numbers print out with my document?

Yes, if you choose to print your document, the line numbers will be included unless you specifically disable them before printing.

Is there a way to skip numbering blank lines?

Microsoft Word does not offer an option to skip numbering on blank lines. All lines, including blank ones, will be numbered sequentially.


Adding line numbers in Microsoft Word is a simple yet powerful tool that can greatly enhance the functionality and professionalism of your documents. Whether you are a student, writer, or professional, mastering this feature can streamline your editing and reviewing processes.

Remember, while adding line numbers is generally straightforward, the customization options can provide the flexibility to cater to specific needs and document types. So the next time you’re working on that important document, take a moment to add line numbers—it might just save you time and headaches in the long run.