The question Why do patent description contains serial numbers like [0001], [0002] etc? is about paragraph numbers. Can a regular patent application be submitted with line numbers? For example,

5   the first lever operatively coupled
    to the second lever; the third level
    operatively coupled to the fourth
    lever; the fourth lever operatively
    coupled to the fifth lever; the
10  fifth lever operatively coupled to
    something else ...

2 Answers 2


This is pretty much of a duplicate of the answer to the linked question. There is no difference between provisional and non-provisional applications is this regard. But I woud take a "may" more seriously in a nonprofessional.

The rules address paragraph numbering in 37 CFR § 1.52

paragraphs of the specification, other than in the claims or abstract, may be numbered at the time the application is filed, and should be individually and consecutively numbered using Arabic numerals, so as to unambiguously identify each paragraph. The number should consist of at least four numerals enclosed in square brackets, including leading zeros (e.g., [0001]). The numbers and enclosing brackets should appear to the right of the left margin as the first item in each paragraph, before the first word of the paragraph, and should be highlighted in bold.

It is optional but recommended for ease of specifying portions of the specification that might end up needing to be amended. It is easier to say, "substitute X for the following text starting with the third line of paragraph A", than without line numbers.

I do not think anything bad will happen if you use line numbers instead. I can't find any mention of line numbers in the MPEP. My guess is that before word processors and computers it have would been very difficult to produce the line number format with a typewriter so the format suggestion was line numbers.

Either way of numbering is a click away in programs like MS Word so I would suggest doing the suggested thing.

  • Perfect. And, I coincidentally just came across a similar bit of advice now when searching "how to number paragraphs in Word for patent applications" here. Though I can not figure out how to number my paragraphs with [xxxx] style, the numbering shown in the OP is a click away, right. Thanks again!
    – Drakes
    Oct 29, 2022 at 7:00
  • 1
    I took a look at a few of the applications I submitted when I was active and many have line numbering just like you show in the question. There was never a problem.
    – George White
    Oct 29, 2022 at 17:42
  • 1
    This might be a better method than some others suggested on line office-forums.com/threads/…
    – George White
    Oct 29, 2022 at 17:57

I have not seen it as a requirement but as a recommendation. See the rules of the Patent Cooperation Treaty and the European Patent Convention below.

Rule 11.8 PCT:

11.8 Numbering of Lines

(a) It is strongly recommended to number every fifth line of each sheet of the description, and of each sheet of claims.

(b) The numbers should appear in the right half of the left margin.

Rule 49(7) EPC:

The lines of each sheet of the description and of the claims shall preferably be numbered in sets of five, the numbers appearing on the left side, to the right of the margin.

  • Nice. This is helpful when applying for patents in other countries.
    – Drakes
    Oct 29, 2022 at 21:12

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