How can I change the default bullet numbered list?

New user running LibreOffice Writer version (x64).
When I click on the “bullet numbered list” icon, the different levels of bullets always start with a “1”. How can I change the DEFAULT bullet numbered list to look like the following:

  1. Level-1

    a) Level-2

      o Level-3  (the o is actually a black dot)

I want the DEFAULT bullet numbered list to look like the sample above when I open a new document.


It seems odd, that we cannot change the defaults of bulleted lists - wouldn’t it be wise to have the desired outline / format, when hitting Shift + F12?

The buttons in the toolbar are for “quick-and-dirty” one-shot documents. When you need more elaborate formatting, you proceed with so-called styles which control all lay out aspects.

In your case, type your list paragraph with one of the “built-in” styles like Numbering 1. Modify this paragraph style (x) to your liking (spacing, margins, …) and, very important, in tab Outline & Numbering, associate it with a list style (or numbering style), say Numbering 1. Click OK.

Next, modify list style Numbering 1, tab Options. You can tune the attributes of up to 10 list levels. Click OK.

To add a new list item, style the paragraph as Numbering 1. To promote or demote this paragraph to another level, set the cursor before the first character (not counting the bullet/number which is automatically inserted by LO) and press Tab or Shift+Tab.

(x) Display the style panel with F11. Right-click on a style name and choose Modify.... The style family is selected with the small icon in the panel toolbar, from left to right: paragraph, character, frame, page, list, table.

If this answer helped you, please accept it by clicking the check mark to the left and, karma permitting, upvote it. If this is what you expected, close the question, that will help other people with the same question.

EDIT 2017-07-22

A styled bulleted list needs two styles: a paragraph style and a (badly named) list style. The paragraph style defines the usual attributes (spacing, margin, font, variants, …) for the list item text. the “list” style defines the appareance of the list item bullet/number. What is disturbing is the fact that both styles, though very different in nature, can bear the same name (they are in diferent namespaces) but this is not required.

The end result is bullet/numbering is automatically added as soon as you select the paragraph style and the “decorations” are entirely under your control. The really big advantage is the “decorations” are guaranteed the same and, as is the case with styles, changing the “decorations” in the style definition propagates automaticelly.

There is nothing special with the paragraph style for a list, apart from the fact that you’ll semantically dedicate this style to a list. as a convenience, to make sure the appearance is similar to bulk text, all List x and Numbering x styles inherit from Text Body through an intermediate List which should not be used (acts as a template to define default properties for all lists if need to be different from Text Body).

Unfortunately, built-in List x and Numbering x come without association with a list style to define their numbering/bullet, i.e. they are strictly equivalent to a common text paragraph style. To transform them into true style for list, you must associate them with a list style. This is done in paragraph style definition dialog under tab Outline & Numbering, drop-down menu Numbering.

Remember that paragraph and list styles are in different namespaces and you are not required to use the same style names. For example, ‘List 1’ paragraph can be bulleted with ‘List 2’. Disturbing but possible.

The properties of the bullet/numbering are set in the list style.

Tab Position will affect and override the left margin of the paragraph style. To get a clean layout, you will usually set the same value in Indent at and Numbering followed by Tab stop at and “outdent” the bullet/number with 0 in Align at. The preview shows interactively the effect of the settings.

Tab Options defines how the items are “numbered”. Keep Bullet for List x and various numbers for Numbering x. Forget Character Style for the first trials (this character style allows for a bullet/number aspect diferent from the item text).

Paragraph styles for lists in LO have an interesting property: the same style can be used for nested list, thus guaranteeing homogeneous appearance like in:

1. abcd efg

1.1. abc def

1.2. ghi jkl

2. mnop

Single numbered items are at level 1, double numbered at level 2, etc. The individual level properties can be adjusted by selecting first Level in the Position and Options tabs.

Now here is how you compose your lists.

  • To start a new list (which is just another sequence of paragraphs from LO point of view), select the paragraph style (List 1) from the paragraph style drop-down menu in the tool bar after you have type the Return key to end the previous paragraph. To restart numbering in a second independent list, right-click and choose Restart Numbering.

  • If you want this item at an higher level, type Tab (no Tab for level 1, one Tab for level 2, two Tabs for level 3, etc.).

  • Type the item text. When you type Return, a new item opens at the same level. To change level, type Tab to nest deeper or Shift+Tab to nest shallower.

  • To return to standard text, select a diferent paragraph style from the menu in the toolbar.

Editing an existing list is similar. Put the cursor before the first character of the item to change level with Tab or Shift+Tab. Uncheck Restart Numbering after a right-click to reintegrate the list to the previous one. Restyle the item Text Body (or another one) to remove it from the list or restyle it List 1 to add it to the list.

Note: there are subtleties with List x, List x Start, List x End and List x Cont. to provide for different spacing before and after the list as a whole and even having unnumbered items. But this is advanced usage to be explored only after you gained some experience with styled lists.

Not sure this is the step-by-step procedure you expected, but list presentation is first a personal matter and your choices are not other man’s choices. The hardest part is to define how you would like your list to appear (LO offers you 2x5 built-in possible different list aspects), then writing a list costs 2 clicks to open and 1 click to leave.

Hi ajlittoz,
I’ll try your suggestion and post my results.

I tried to figure out how to implement your suggestion but was unable to figure out the step-by-step procedure. — Before I pursue it more, could you explain what the end result will be? IOW, a step-by-step of how the bullet numbered list would be activated when using it in a document. Then I can decide whether the procedure to turn on bullet numbering will be what I want. Thanks!

Exactly the answer I was looking for, Thanks you!


Regarding your edit of 2017-07-22, thank you very much for taking the time to key in all of that information. I very much appreciate it. I’m viewing youtube videos now to try to figure out how to create the paragraph and list styles that you described in your first post.

Meanwhile, I found a way to initiate bullet numbered lists with the formatting I want using a macro. I can initiate a bullet numbered list which I discovered that LO actually calls it an “Outline”. IOW, go “Format > Bullets & Numbering > Outline tab > choice nbr 2”.

Thanks so much for all of your help. I’ll be revisiting the info you posted as I learn how to create paragraph and list styles.


Tabs Numbering type and Outline are shortcuts to define parameters in tabs Position and Options. They should rather be considered as examples or tutorials because most of them in Outline are inconsistent (personal opinion, so YMMV).

Begin with them but once your document is completed, tune through Position and Options.

Can LibreOffice be set up to behave like Google Docs?

That is, I simply type “1.” and the suite will do the next steps of creating a bulleted list which makes sense, automatically…

  1. Sample item
    a. Next sample item
    i. And so on it goes

After more than 15 years in the market, it is high time a major overhaul be made to LibreOffice… to make it more visually appealing, intuitive and actually usable. :stuck_out_tongue:

Open Tools>AutoCorrect Options. In tab Options, check Apply numbering. Works with numeric and roman numbering.

Remark 1: this should have been a separate question.

Remark 2: beware of fancy UI! The real value in LO Writer is in its style system. When correctly set up, you no longer use the toolbars (just occasionally to change your workflow mode).