LibreOffice Writer Nested Lists Controlled via Styles

In the last tutorial we looked at the very important functional definitions of list items, and how to use the Promote/Demote buttons to properly manage your nested lists. But to put the whole package together we need to return to the Style properties. You could of course not do this with Styles, but why? If you create a style to match your needs and save it in a Template, you only need to do the work once and you will have it available to you from then on. So while the Bullets and Numbering Toolbar controls the functional aspects of nested lists, the Style properties window lets you control the appearance of your lists.

The key concept for working with this is that you control each level of the hierarchy separately. And there are 3 tabs you can use for this purpose. The first one is the Outline tab. This has a number of pre-configured hierarchies, and you may note that it includes nested bullet lists, and even mixed hierarchies that have both numbered and bulleted levels.You can select one of these by just clicking on it until it has a thick black line around it, and then clicking the Apply button. But remember that it will only work if you use the Promote/Demote buttons properly!

The next tab to look at is the Position tab. This is something we looked at closely when we deconstructed two of the built-in styles. There are some general rules to follow with your positioning. The first is that you want to be consistent for all of your levels. Take a look at the Level window, and note that at the bottom there is an entry for 1-10. If you click it, you will see that the “Numbering followed by” and the “Numbering alignment” are both displayed, but other settings are not. You should take that as a clue that these two settings should be identical for all 10 levels. And for the other settings, you should achieve some uniformity in the settings. The specific numbers will be different for each level, but you should always set the “Tab stop” and the “Indent at” to the exact same number so that your items line up properly. And all three of the number settings should increase by the same amount from one level to the next.  If they increased by 0.25″ inch from Level 1 to Level 2, then they should increase by another 0.25″ from Level 2 to Level 3, and so on.

The last tab, Options, completes your control. This is where you can set your characters for each level. Again, note that you set each level separately. So, start  with Level 1, and look at the first setting, Numbering. This lets you specify the numbering style, and gives you options from Arabic numerals, Roman numerals, letters, and a variety of other options. You can also specify bullets, and even choose graphics for the bullets if you wish. The thing to remember is that you can specify this separately for each level. You could have numbers on one level, bullets on the next, and a different numbering on the third. That might look like this:

This shows a mixed nested list that has both numbered and bulleted levels.







And now a note about Bullets in a list. If you select Bullet in the Numbering dropdown a setting box will appear that says Character. This is where you choose the character that you will use for your bullet. You can choose any character from any font, but you will probably find the greatest selection of suitable characters in the Dingbats font. And if you want a full nested Bullet list, just choose different characters for each level.

Next look at the Before and After. These show up if you have selected a Number type, whether Arabic, Roman, or letters. These let you place some other character either before or after the number. And for these, you just type them in with the keyboard. For example, if you wanted the number to be enclosed in parentheses you would type an opening parenthesis mark in the Before space and a closing parenthesis mark in the After space. Or to put a period after the number, leave the Before space blank and put a period in the After space. Or substitute some other character, like a dash. You can even type a blank space first and then a dash mark in the After space, and each of your list items will be a number, then a space, then a dash. You have lots of possibilities here.

Next is the Character Style box. This lets you apply a Character style to the characters used for your number lists. We have discussed Character Styles previously, and this lets you bring that great functionality into your numbered list. Here is an example I created where I set Level 2 to have a Character style of Emphasis, and Level 3 to have a Character style of Strong Emphasis:

A nested list showing how Character Styles can be incorporated.








Next is “Show sublevels”. This is used often for things like contracts where this type of numbering is required for clauses. With “Show sublevels” each of the levels above is repeated in the level number, so that the first Level 2 item to appear under the first Level 1 item would be numbered 1.1. an example of such a list is:

A nested list with Show sublevels selected.







When you use this option you are asked how many levels to show. I would suggest that this will generally work best if you set it for the maximum 10. If the number you set is equal to or greater than the number of levels in your list, you will get the results you probably expect. If you set it to a number that is less than the number of levels in your list it will truncate the numbers from the beginning of the numbers, which is generally odd. Setting it to the maximum is safe for a style because only the levels actually used will be displayed. Remember that for a style that we create and store in a Template the idea should be to “set it once and forget about it.”

As for the last two items, I advise you to forget about them. “Start at” changes the starting number, which might be useful to change for a specific list, but would not make sense in a style. And “Consecutive numbering” seems to get rid of the hierarchy in odd ways.

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