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Create multi-level/multi-paragraph list styles applied by TAB vs SHIFT-TAB?

asked 2019-10-10 04:28:53 +0200

zenaan gravatar image

updated 2019-10-10 04:31:16 +0200

The answer to this (2012) no longer works (2019, LibreOffice 6.3.2.2), see my comment to the answer: https://ask.libreoffice.org/en/questi...

The question is essentially the same how do I "create a list style that has a different paragraph style associated with each list level and that acts like a list" so that TAB and SHIFT-TAB change the paragraph style accordingly. In response to #1719 and its existing answer above:

a) there is no longer a Tools -> Outline Numbering menu option

b) Bullets and Numbering dialog "Customize" tab has a "Character style" but no "paragraph style" setting

c) when selecting an existing multi level list, and applying (say double clicking) the "List 1" style, then LO removes all the levels, i.e. all levels become "level 1" numbering

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answered 2019-10-10 09:07:06 +0200

ajlittoz gravatar image

updated 2019-10-10 11:17:09 +0200

Your confusion comes from misunderstanding of what a list is. I admit that the documentation is oriented towards usage and does not explain it.

Writer is based on styles which come in several flavours:

  • page style defines the geometric properties of the paper sheet, i.e. size, orientation, margins, and "logical" properties like header or footer existence, background, columns, etc.

  • paragraph style defines the geometric properties of the rectangular area occupied by paragraph text, i.e. spacing around, first line indent, alignment, text flow (relation to surrounding paragraphs and page), background, borders, and also sets a base font for the text

  • character style defines overriding font attributes to change the appearance of words of sequences in a paragraph vs. what is defined in the paragraph style

    When you hit Ctrl+I for italics or press a toolbar button, you apply implicit character styles.

  • list style defines a multi-level counter and its properties level per level: nature (bullet/number/letter), formatting with an optional character style (active on the bullet/number/letter only), position, indent and alignment

    As you see, this style category is badly named because it targets only a counter and does nothing directly on text. It should be named "numbering style" or equivalent.

  • frame style defines geometric properties of a frame, i.e. the area where images and other external objects are inserted into the document and its relation to the text

Styles are the basing tools through which you build a nice looking document. They must be combined to create common entities in publishing. One of these entities is list. A list has a paragraph style to describe textual attributes of list items and a list style for the numbering. Association of a list style to a paragraph style is done in the Outline & Numbering tab of a paragraph style definition. This will turn the paragraph style into a "list-formatter".

For an obscure reason, built-in paragraph styles List n and Numbering n styles are not associated with list styles and therefore behave like ordinary paragraph styles. This is why numbering vanishes when you apply one of them. Assign a list style to it and numbering will come back.

I mentioned above the list style defines a multi-level counter. When you hit Tab at the very start of a list item, the item is promoted to the next level, while Shift+Tab demotes it to the previous level. The multi-level counter is aware of this level change and bumps the correct number to display 2. then 2.1 then 3. if configured to display all levels.

This multi-level properties explains why you should not used different counters (list styles) for different levels. Different counters are not synchronised (they control independent lists) and instead of getting 1. 1.1 1.2 2. 2.1 2.2, you obtain 1. 1. 2. 2. 3. 4., i.e. two interleaved sequences!

In traditional typography, lists are supposed to have an homogeneous presentation. This is why a single paragraph style formats ... (more)

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Thank you for your extraordinarily detailed answer - really appreciate it. I'm very comfortable with numbering lists now "list styles", and your answer above holds the two keys to my misunderstanding:

1) "With the present Writer specification, you can't have different paragraph styles across list levels" - this is what I was trying to achieve, and I'm not about to use "Chapter Numbering" to achieve this - it feels so much like it should be a type of style, and you've confirmed that it uses the list numbering internals - let's see what the future brings :)

2) "In traditional typography, list are supposed to have an homogeneous presentation. This is why a single paragraph style formats all levels" - and this is the reason or at least present justification. I shall live with this for now of course.

Thanks again,

zenaan gravatar imagezenaan ( 2019-10-10 11:02:03 +0200 )edit

Note that if you give up automatic level switch, you can have lists with different paragraph level-styles. What characterises a list as a typographic object is the counter, i.e. the list style. You can attach the same list style to several paragraph styles. When you change levels with Tab, you must also manually restyle the paragraph with the appropriate paragraph style (within the collection linked to the counter). You're done.

But remember this usage is not encouraged.

ajlittoz gravatar imageajlittoz ( 2019-10-10 11:11:02 +0200 )edit
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answered 2019-10-10 04:43:28 +0200

ToolsOutline Numbering had been renamed to ToolsChapter Numbering.

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1) "Chapter Numbering" sounds like something to add numbering to chapter headings, which also feels like it should be reduntant - just associate a "numbering style" with the required heading style.

2) Setting "Level 1 Chapter Numbering" to have a style other than a "Heading #N" style feels weird.

3) Chapter Numbering being "something other than a numbering style, and also not a "style" per se" is inconsistent UI - more confusion.

4) Having set up all my List1 List2 List3... numbering styles, I just now futzed with "Chapter numbering" assinging List1, List2 etc to each of the first 3 levels. Actual list numbers disappeared; association with original numbering style is gone; indentations gone. It appears I have to reset all these params for "Chapter numbering"!

zenaan gravatar imagezenaan ( 2019-10-10 07:06:14 +0200 )edit

A) Chapter Numbering should just be a numbering style; which can then be applied to Heading or List (paragraph) styles as needed.

B) To make this work for TAB and SHIFT-TAB, actual numbering styles should have a setting "Style for next (indentation) level", "Style for previous (indentation) level". That would solve all of this, and do so in an elegant way, which looks and acts like a LO style (which Chapter Numbering really is, at least from my end-user perspective). (Of course, Level 1 does not have a "previous level".)

C) Make sure to mention to users that when using "numbering styles" with e.g. Heading paragraph styles, they might want to set the "numbering style's Character style" to "none".

D) Having spent hours learning, setting up and refining my numbering and paragraph styles, discovering "Chapter numbering", which is not a style, but replaces some styles, is really annoying!

zenaan gravatar imagezenaan ( 2019-10-10 07:11:53 +0200 )edit

Another bug (or feature?), having applied chapter numbering, lost my actual numbers, now which I go to beginning of line and press TAB, all paragraphs above and below the current paragraph are indented, and the style does NOT change from List1 to List2! These paras were a multilevel numbered list of paras, some are level 1, some are level 2 (may be some level 3 too).

Am I supposed to (re)assign a numbering style again to List1, List2 etc?

Otherwise, how do I now get my list numbers back?

This is REALLY confusing.

zenaan gravatar imagezenaan ( 2019-10-10 07:16:58 +0200 )edit

Outline numbering has always been about numbering of chapters... and so my answer was about your question ("there is no longer a Tools -> Outline Numbering menu option"). That it is not a style, and acts orthogonally to styles, is known - e.g., see my tdf#104206, which is duplicate of tdf#62032.

Mike Kaganski gravatar imageMike Kaganski ( 2019-10-10 09:17:43 +0200 )edit

Thank you, your answer did indeed answer the question as it was written. Hopefully useful for the next guy :)

zenaan gravatar imagezenaan ( 2019-10-10 12:08:13 +0200 )edit
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Asked: 2019-10-10 04:28:53 +0200

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Last updated: Oct 10