By default, bullets and numbers inherit some of their text formatting from the first character in the paragraph to which they’re attached. If the first character in one paragraph is different from the first characters in other paragraphs, the numbering or bullet character may appear inconsistent with the other list items. If this is not the formatting you desire, create a character style for numbers or bullets and apply it to your list by using the Bullets And Numbering dialog box.

i’ve had to do tons of this lately and found that for the amounts of tickets being done (e.g. 7000 x 10 tickets + cover & mailer) that chuckT’s solution almost 2 years ago is similar to what i use. would be interested to know if others doing similar VDP are using a wholly indesign/excel solution, or if specific VDP software such as XMPie are being used.
See Word's Numbering Explained by John McGhie, MVP - comprehensive and not pretty (Downloadable pdf file in letter size) - Reading this is vital to anyone attempting to use automatic numbering or bullets in a law office setting or other places where the documents are likely to be reused or heavily edited. See also How to Create a Template with a downloadable template with style-based numbering.
Changing the numbering display affects how pages are indicated in the InDesign document, as in the Pages panel and in the page box at the bottom of a document window. The numbering display also affects how you specify page ranges when printing and exporting the document. However, the numbering display does not change the appearance of page numbers on document pages.
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If you’re a self-taught InDesign user, you may not have been introduced to automatic page numbering, one of the biggest time-saving features in the program. InDesign allows you to set up the page numbering feature in your Master Pages. Then, as you add or shuffle pages, InDesign updates individual page numbers accordingly. You can style the page number any way you like.
Numbering in Word is a bit of a nightmare at times and if you need multi-level numbering this could cause you much stress if you rely on the mouse alone. Using the keyboard to some degree makes this task very simple. I will explain how to create a multi-levelled numbered list and ask you to keep all the default formatting that Word gives you. This can be changed and modified but sometimes it messes up your layout. I advise to use what is there until you have the times and patience to master its intricacies.

You will occasionally want to place an unnumbered paragraph in the middle of a sequence, but the moment you hit Enter, another paragraph number pops up. To fix this, toggle paragraph numbering off by pressing the paragraph numbering button you used for the previous paragraph. (If you use the button’s drop-down, choose None as the numbering scheme.) Unfortunately, the paragraph settings won’t revert to Normal here; it’ll usually have the paragraph indented 0.25. Use the keyboard shortcut CTRL+Q to strip paragraph settings out, then revise the formatting as you wish.
Like Microsoft Word, Publisher also lets you add page numbers to your document. This is a special element of the document, as the page number function is smart enough to manually adjust itself in the event that something changes the number of pages in the document. This makes it (typically) preferable to a manual page numbering system that could become incorrect if the number or order of pages changes. Our tutorial below will show you how to insert page numbers in Publisher 2013.
Running captions number figures, tables, and other items consecutively in a document. For example, the first figure caption starts with the words “Figure 1,” the second with “Figure 2,” and so on. To make sure that figures, tables, or similar items are numbered consecutively, define a list for the item, and then create a paragraph style that includes the list definition. You can also add descriptive words such as “Figure” or “Table” to the numbering scheme of the paragraph style.

Each section within an InDesign document can be numbered differently. This allows you to use one type of numerals to consecutively number a document's preface or other introductory materials and another numeral system for the remainder of the document. You must first define your document's sections, and then you can add section markers or page markers to your master pages. Apply the master page to document pages to include the section and page numbers on the document pages.
Now, I need to number the paragraphs in this section without them being headings, and link the number to the above Heading 2., i.e. 2.1.1, 2.1.2, 2.1.3..... or even 2.1.a, 2.1.b. ….. in order that I have the possibility to cross-reference them somewhere in the document. Obviously this section cannot have a Heading 3 in the event of using 2.1.1 etc, otherwise the numbering gets confused.

Notice that the Font option (when you applied italics) changes only the number, not the heading text. To update the heading text, modify the heading style as you normally would. Word assumes you want all Heading 1 and Heading 2 styles included in the new numbering scheme. If you want to omit a heading level from the scheme, don't use a built-in heading style to format those headings.


All of this happens in the Bullets & Numbering dialog box, shown below. You will definitely want to use paragraph styles for this. My first one is called Chapter title. You will need to begin by changing the List Type to Numbers for all of the levels, and you must both name the List and use the same named list for all Levels. You do this by selecting the List > New List.
If you’re producing any kind of numbered items in-house that are multiple-up on a sheet where you need to control all the variables to meet your production needs, the autonumbering feature through numbered lists is the way to go! Just step and repeat away & InDesign will do all the work. No need to fool with a seperate “numbers” file or deal with a data merged document. I think it’s by far the best option for basic numbering.
Some drawbacks to this feature are that you lose a little control when you are typing. Word formats for you and some users do not like this. Also, on certain items, you will get a number when you do not expect or need one. For example, you have an attorney whose name begins with an initial (A. George Smith). When you type the name and press ENTER, the first initial "A." converts to an automatic number.

First thing we need to do, is we need to jump to page 1. So double click page 1, so we know we're on it. Right click page no.1, and we need to go to this option that says 'Numbering & Section Options'. Click on him. And what we do is, we say, I want to switch it from style 1, 2, 3 to A, B, C. Actually you pick any of these in here. It's really typical to use A, B, C, but you can use any of these other numbers, just click 'OK'. You'll notice that A, B, C, D, E is being replaced out. Now what we want to do is go to our first page that we want. In our case it's E. So I don't want this. Let's get rid of our Spreads. I don't want page 1, page C, or B. I don't want this to be page1, I want this to be page 1. So I'm going to double click page E. Right click it, go to 'Numbering & Sectioning'. And just say, I'd like to start at page no. 1 using this format. Click 'OK'. What will happen is, you can see, page 1 starts here, 2, 3, 4. You see, the numbering starts here as well. All the way through, to the end of our document.
Thanks very much for your prompt reply, which reassured me that I was on the right path. From having read various Help topics, I suspected that I'd have to use an Excel data source for the numbers. Fortunately, my knowledge of Excel was good enough to know about the drag and drop facility to create automatic sequential numbering, so the data source creation was easy. In the end, it was the mail merge (no surprises?) which proved a tad tricky, but I got there in the end. I've used MM many times and quite happily in Word documents, but for Publisher label format, it was of course a bit different. The important bit that I had to discover for myself was the significance of, after getting to the Print stage, going into Print options, to Publication & Paper Settings, and selecting Multiple Pages per Sheet (& in my case, also "Single-sided" cos my default of duplex printing had come up). But TA-DA!  All is fine now. Thanks very much again.
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