How does one change the default numbered list numbering style?

Hi, I’ve moved from Google Docs to LibreOffice Writer. I’m used to this experience:

Type “1.” to begin a numbered list.
Press Return and get the second list element (e.g. “2.”)
Press tab to put that element on the second level of the numbering sequence (e.g. “a.”)
Press Return and then tab to get the third level of the numbering sequence (e.g. “i.”)

I would end up with this result:

  1. First line, first level

    a. Second line, second level

     i. Third line, third level

However, in the default behaviour, the same actions in LibreOffice Writer result in:

  1. First line, first level
    1. Second line, second level
      1. Third line, third level

I understand how to ‘customize’ the numbering sequence for a particular list, or even create a new numbering sequence and set that as the default for a particular ‘list style’ under ‘styles’. However, it is difficult to train myself out of automatically typing ‘1.’ to begin a new numbered list, in favour of using the ‘styles’ menu to set the list style.

Is there a way to change the numbering sequence used by default when the Autocorrect option is set to automatically create a numbered list when one types ‘1.’?


Don’t post twice on the same topic! In your previous question, you were requested to provide additional information, which you do here in much better terms. But it leaves the other question open and this confuses users.

@ajlittoz: but this is asked by @areographe, and that by @rykellim :wink:

@mikekaganski: oops! But the question were so similar and so close in time …

@areographe: apologies

Yes, I apologise for not seeing the other question before asking mine.

@areographe: don’t, I am guilty for not having noticed the author was different. But what a coincidence! The same question indeed in a 2-day period, both about Google Docs style. Anyway, yours had enough information to be answered.

1 Like

Implicit numbered lists, i.e. those created by starting a paragraph with 1., are controlled by settings in Format>Bullets & Numbering. Go to the Options tab to define the various properties.

This is valid for the current document. I you want to have it as your own default numbering for all future documents, create a template containing all your customised styles and general settings, save it and define it as your default template. All of this is done with File>Templates>…

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Thank you for your prompt response. I have tried changing the numbering in the customised default template I use, but I have found that once I have created an implicit numbered list with the correct custom numbering sequence, if I think type another paragraph and go to create a second implicit numbered list, it reverts to the default ‘1. , 1. , 1.’ numbering sequence.

I have also tried this and found the same thing in a non-template document I am working in.

If the intended behaviour is: changing the settings under Format → Bullets & Numbering → Customize applies to every implicit numbered list in the document, and instead it only applies to the current numbered list, should I open a bug report? I am using LibreOffice on Linux.

Thank you!

I don’t like the implicit buttons and rules. They are offered as a quick starter so that nowbies and casual users can have a quick feeling about Writer possibilities. All the formatting you do with buttons or keyboard shortcuts is called direct formatting and has a local effect.

To get a global, controlled and easily centrally modifiable effect, you must use styles It seems hard and bothering at the beginning but this is the key to mastering (taming?) Writer. Within styles, list formatting is the most difficult because it involves the association of two styles categories: paragraph (which is roughly known to every document processing application) and so-called list (which should rather be named sequence or counter style). List styles are unique to Writer and cleanly separate the properties of the bullet/number from those of the paragraph.

I agree with @ajlittoz, if you open a new document, you’ll get “Default Paragraph Style” applied automatically. If you then click the bullet or number list button, it’s strange and surprising that you don’t get “Default Bullet Style” or “Default Numbering Style” or similar.

@jdpipe: because there is no such “Default Bullet/Numbering Style”. This is intentional to avoid damaging accidentally document formatting. The “default” bullet/numbering style is some very special internal style which is used to apply direct formatting to list items. This DF makes all list independent from each other while named list styles will control centrally all so-formatted lists (all lists shared the same properties and attributes). You access the “default” parameters through Format>List & Numbering.

Once again, for documents maintained on the long term, prefer to work with styles and don’t use direct formatting or you’ll end up in a mess.

@ajlittoz, understood, but on the other hand, by this logic, why is ‘Default Paragraph Style’ defined, but ‘Default Bullet/Numbering Style’ is not? You can (could) still apply direct formatting to lists above-and-beyond the default, in the same way as we do with formatting of paragraphs… I don’t really see why lists have to be handled in the style system in a way that is different from how paragraphs are handled.

Contrary to common belief, Default Paragraph Style in Writer is not the style to use for your discourse. For that use Text Body. Paragraph styles are hierarchically organized, inheriting from ancestors down the hierarchy. Once you master the concept, you can control your graphic charter very smartly (i.e. you create sub-masters controlling a whole sub-hierarchy). As long as attributes are not redefined in a descendant style, they keep the value they had in the ancestor.

Default Paragraph Style is the ultimate ancestor of all styles, the master of masters. It is intended to set “system-wide” defaults that will be inherited by all other styles. To have an idea about this tree structure, display the styles selecting Hierarchical from the drop-down menu at bottom of the style pane.

Among character styles, Default Character Style is a fake style. It is used to wipe out attributes set by a character style to revert to paragraph style settings.

Regarding the absence of a Default Bullet/Numbering Style, I think (personal opinion) the present modus operandi is a trade-off between the complexity of setting up a user paragraph style associated with a list style and the non-structured way of doing it in Word.

Designing a paragraph style usable for automatic list item is the most difficult task in the style system because it involves simultaneously 2 style categories: paragraph & list. In addition, the list style takes over some attributes of the paragraph style, creating confusion about where to act to achieve the desired result. It took me a long time to understand all the interactions (and there are still nasty bugs in the implementation).

You also have another important implicit list style: Tools>Chapter Numbering. It is based on the same engine, but it is set apart and protected so that you don’t accidentally mess it up. But you can if you hack it.

In particular, never over-number headings adding list numbering.