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How to Add Line Numbers in Google Docs

There are times when working in Google Docs that you may want to insert line numbers into your file.

Line numbers are useful for many reasons. For example, you may want to count the number of lines in your file, display line numbers for easy referencing, or create a numbered bibliography.

In this tutorial, I will show you how to add line numbers in Google Docs.

Table of Contents

How to Setup Line Numbering

There is not a built-in way to show the line numbers in Google Docs, however, there are some workaround methods we can use that will do something similar.

One thing we can do if we haven’t started writing in our document yet is to use a numbered list before we begin writing.

This will then automatically number a line every time we press the return key.

Here are the steps to do this:

1. Open your Google Doc

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2. In the toolbar select Numbered list. Alternatively you can press Ctrl+Shift+7 on your keyboard as a keyboard shortcut

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3. You will now see a number in your file. You can begin writing your desired text

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4. Every time you press the Enter key your number will increment

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This method works well enough, however, there are a couple of drawbacks. It only works if you haven’t begun writing yet. 

You can’t number preexisting lines with this.

Also, this won’t truly number every line. If you continue writing and your text extends beyond a line before pressing the return key, you could have multiple lines for one number.

So if you really want to number every line, you will have to use the extension method which I will cover later on in this post. 

Numbering Paragraphs

If you want to number every paragraph that you have written in your document, then the same method as above will work.

Except for this time, you will have to select all your paragraphs before selecting the numbered list option.

Here are the steps to do this:

1. Open up your Google Doc and highlight every paragraph that you want to number. You can select everything in your document by pressing Ctrl + A on your keyboard or by selecting Edit>Select all through the top menu


2. In the toolbar select Numbered list


3. You will now have numbered every paragraph


4. You will notice that this method might have removed the spaces between your paragraphs. To put these spaces back, you will have to do it manually. Click at the end of your first paragraph and press the Enter key twice. This will make it so your paragraphs are separated by a space again



Using the Line Numbers for Google Docs Extension

The only real way to get true line numbers into your Google Doc is to use an extension.

The Line Numbers for Google Docs extension does exactly this.

When using this extension you have much more flexibility on how your lines are numbered compared to the previous method.

To use this extension to number your lines:

1. Search for “Line Numbers for Google Docs” in your browser and open up the chrome web store option. When you find the page for the extension, select the Add to Chrome button


2. After you’ve added it, you should see a line numbering option at the top right of your screen. Select this option


3. After you’ve selected the option, the line numbering dialog box will open on your screen. From here you can set up your rules for line numbering. To show line numbering make sure the “show line numbering” box is checked. You can set additional rules by adjusting the settings here. Select Apply when you are finished


You should see line numbering in your Google Doc. 

However, this extension has been known to have issues before where line numbering doesn’t appear to be working correctly.

Hopefully, they will get this fixed soon, so if it’s not working for you, assume they have not fixed the glitch yet. 

Closing Thoughts

There is not a true built-in way to get line numbering in Google Docs.

We can use the numbered list option for an okay substitute, but it has its drawbacks.

The line numbering extension is a decent option if the extension is working properly. However, it doesn’t work for all users.

Eventually, Google may include a built-in line number option, so for now, these are the best options. 

More Google Docs Tutorials:
How to Add a New Page
How to Add a Running Head