How do I add comment balloon numbering in Word 2013 and Word 2016?

21 Sep

I have already published a range of posts on issues with comment boxes or comment balloons, including ones on comment boxes suddenly going tiny, or comment box text running in the wrong direction, changing the language in your comment balloons. This article covers what to do to add comment balloon numbering back in Word 2013 and 2016. Incidentally, this also signposts you to how to change the style of your comment balloon in general.

Where have the comment balloon numbers gone in Word?

In Word 2013 and 2016, the default setting is for comment balloons not to have numbers. Why? I honestly don’t know. Microsoft does have a habit of “simplifying” its Office interfaces, and the numbers do change with context (if you remove Comment 2, Comment 3 will be labelled Comment 2, etc.) but I have always found it useful to have numbers in my comment balloons.

Here’s what the default looks like:

comment balloon Word 2013 no number

and this is what I’m aiming for:

Word 2013 2016 comment balloon with number

How do I change the comment balloon style and numbering?

We need to change the style of the comment balloons in order to add a number.

Click inside a comment balloon and press Ctrl+Shift+S (all at the same time, in that order) to display the Apply Styles pane:

Word 2013 2016 balloon style

This should be context-specific, but just check the style name is “Comment Text”.

Click the Modify button  to access the Modify Style pane:

Word 2013 2016 modify style
Look at the bottom of the dialogue box and click the Format button, which will give you a dropdown menu:

Word 2013 2016 numbering comments boxes

Click Numbering, which will allow you to select a numbering scheme:

Word 2013 2016 choose numbering scheme for comments

Click on the numbering scheme you want to use so that it’s highlighted with a line, and then click OK.

If you want to use a numbering scheme that’s not on this screen, click on Define New Number Format instead:

Word 2013 2016 define new numbering format

Once you’ve clicked this, you will see some new options:


Click on OK here, which will take you back to the previous screen, OR click OK on the number format screen, then choose if you want Word to update this document (Automatically update) and to apply this default to all new documents from now on (New documents based on this template):

Word 2013 2016 apply new style

Click OK and your comment boxes will have numbers!

Word 2013 2016 comment balloon with number

This article has shown you how to add numbers to your comment balloons / boxes / text in MS Word 2013 and 2016 for PC. You can use it to modify this setting in earlier versions of Word, but they will default to having numbers.

If you have found this article helpful, please add a comment and/or share it using the buttons below. Thank you!

Other related posts on this blog

What to do if your comment boxes go tiny in Word

What to do if your comment boxes start running from right to left

Changing the language in your comment balloons

Customising your comment boxes – everything you need to know

Customising Track Changes



Posted by on September 21, 2016 in Copyediting, New skills, Students, Word, Writing


Tags: , , , ,

9 responses to “How do I add comment balloon numbering in Word 2013 and Word 2016?

  1. White Ink Limited

    September 21, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    Brilliant tip, Liz! Personally, I prefer the new style without numbers, but know several people who feel lost without them! Will be sharing!


    • Liz Dexter

      September 21, 2016 at 1:46 pm

      I had someone ask me how to get them back, and I prefer to have them so I know how many comments I’ve made in a document! Thank you for sharing – much appreciated.



        February 14, 2017 at 3:52 pm

        Hi Liza and thx for this tutorial! Assuming that I default all my documents to use the numbering comment scheme, will the people I’m sharing my documents with see my comments numbering or not?


        • Liz Dexter

          February 14, 2017 at 3:58 pm

          Thank you for your question. No, anyone using these versions of Word will need to be instructed to turn on their numbering, too (I suggest you just send them this tutorial!) as all Track Changes options are specific to your particular computer and version of Word.


  2. coba

    March 4, 2017 at 12:47 pm

    Hello and thank you very much for this helpful, step-by-step tutorial. It’s perfect! But…
    After following this procedure, numbers appeared not only in the first paragraph, but also in the other paragraphs inside the same comment. The only workaround is to change paragraph by clicking Shift+Enter.
    So, I wonder if there is a way to number only the balloons, and not the paragraphs inside; i.e. a number next to the commentator’s name.

    Best regards,


  3. Emilie

    March 7, 2017 at 11:27 pm

    hello thankyou for these helpful tutorials. I have now got my comments looking beautiful on screen but when I go to print them the format changes so that they do not display the user name but rather say “commented [initials#]”. Do you know if there is a way to get them to print as they are on the screen. Thanks


  4. Shifra

    March 19, 2017 at 3:51 pm

    In Word 2010 I was able to print my document without the comments, and the text that was commented was highlighted and contained the number of the comment in brackets. I was able to print the comments separately for reference. The comments-only document had the numbers and page numbers of each comment. This allowed me to print out one copy of my very long document, to allow somebody else to read it without the comments (and without the wasted margin of comment area), and I was able to work on handling all my “to-do” comments. Even if I restore numbering of the comments, this extremely helpful option is gone – unless you can help me figure out how to have those numbers embedded in the text…
    Better yet, how can we get MS to return that very important feature?!



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