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How to Number and Reference Documents

A point I often have to make to our distance learning students concerns the use of numbering and referencing within documents. If our students are struggling with this, it stands to reason that other blog readers may benefit from some guidance too. Here’s how to number and reference your documents.

For ease of reference, it is important to number both the pages and paragraphs within a claim, report or a lengthy letter. There are many reasons for this. It ensures you produce a more professional looking document. It also allows easy reference to other sections in your document.

Imagine being in a meeting where a claim is being discussed, or having to prepare a written response to a claim. It is much easier and helpful to be able to refer to ‘Item 4.12.b’. The alternative would be to count the pages and paragraphs and make reference to ‘page 28, paragraph 6, bullet point 2’.

For the same reason, it is better to use numeric and alpha numbering rather than bullet points. Microsoft Word includes fairly simple options for numbering, which may be used to good effect.

There are many recognised methods for referencing reports and documents. One of the most popular is the ‘Harvard’ method. For more detailed information on referencing and numbering, take a look at this guide from the University of Reading.