Suppose I have the following org file (example.org):

* Alpha
** Aleph
* Beta
* Gamma

When I export it to HTML I get:

1. Alpha
1.1. Aleph
2. Beta
3. Gamma

Which is quite useful in most cases. Now suppose I want to have the following HTML output:

2.3.1. Alpha Aleph
4.2. Beta
5. Gamma

How should I amend example.org?

Note that the expected new numbering can't be predicted, it has hence to be specified manually.

  • This look pretty arbitrary to me: can you describe an algorithm that would produce this numbering from your input? The standard numbering is of course algorithmically definable (see the code). I'm not sure that yours is.
    – NickD
    Commented Jul 16, 2022 at 16:44
  • 1
    I don't think there's a possible algorithm, I would like to specify the numbering manually. The use case is that I need to produce a document that is a selection of headlines (and their content) from another document. So the extract has to reproduce the numbering of the original.
    – crocefisso
    Commented Jul 16, 2022 at 16:56
  • Thanks for the edit.
    – crocefisso
    Commented Jul 16, 2022 at 16:57
  • 1
    You should add the use case to the question (i.e. not in a comment): it's an integral part of what you are trying to do.
    – NickD
    Commented Jul 16, 2022 at 17:19

1 Answer 1


The solution is quite simple, example.org has to be written like this:

#+OPTIONS:    num:nil
* 2.3.1. Alpha
** Aleph
* 4.2. Beta
* 5. Gamma
  • The trouble with this is that there is no way to generate it from the original file: you need to generate the exported file and then manually copy the section numbers into example.org. Not my idea of fun but, if it works for you, I will not complain (too much).
    – NickD
    Commented Jul 18, 2022 at 2:03
  • 1
    Also you can bypass export using M-x org-num-mode from the source file and typing down the numbers instead of copy-pasting them.
    – crocefisso
    Commented Jul 18, 2022 at 7:35

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