How to change the default list style?

I modified the list styles on the Styles sidebar. However, when I use the list shortcut on the Properties sidebar (image), or the default on the Position and Spacing tab, Bullets and Numbering window (image), a separate default list style is used.

Using the Bullet • list style, the List Style Name is displayed as “List 1”:

The default list style seems to have random numerical ID List Style Names:

Is it possible to change this default list style? Thanks!

Your question is quite confusing because it lacks detailed pinpoint description of your procedure. My explanation is based upon what I infer from your screenshot. But before that, I’d like to remind you that it is wise when asking here to mention OS name, LO version and save format because there are differences and formatting stability is guaranteed only when saving native, i.e. .odt.

Using the Properties side pane implies you direct format your document and don’t use styles (i.e. you don’t assign a specific style to your paragraphs, characters, pages, frames, lists, …

Direct formatting means that Writer applies unique one-of-a-kind collection of attributes to your data. This collection is identified differently on every use, even if the collection contains exactly the same attributes with the same values. This workflow is obvious from display by the style inspector (though I see Text Body suggesting you are only partly styling).

Note, though, that the style inspector has limitations and never reports correctly list styles. Even if you apply built-in Numbering 13, you’ll see “list123456” under Character Direct Formatting, but the correct name is displayed in the Paragraph Styles section.

What you manipulate with the “list” buttons in the side pane (they are the same as in the main toolbar) is the default Format>Bullets & Numbering configuration. And it is not your friend in sophisticated documents not intended for single-shot usage.

This control belongs is the direct formatting family and is even worse than what you can do to paragraphs and characters. It deviates from the usual behaviour to avoid messing up lists which must be separated from each other (they are not continuations of a single list), all the more when you want different kinds of numbering. It probably comes from a desire for compatibility with M$ Word and introduces considerable distortion where formatting becomes slightly unpredictable (or, modifying a list may have an undesired effect on another one).

Since it is direct formatting, every list gets a different list style occurrence, hence the different style ids. But an ambiguity remains. How does Writer determine this is a “different list”? It is dependent on the edit history of the document and the order in which you composed it.

To achieve formatting predictability and reliability, as always, style your document and prohibit direct formatting. Contrary to common belief, direct formatting is not intuitive at all. It requires expert knowledge for a given expect result and, nevertheless,it turns document layout maintenance into a real nightmare.

Regarding lists, your tool is list style which , unlike its name suggests, deals only with the bullet/number properties. It must be associated with a paragraph style governing the rest of the parameters, either through manual application (direct-formatting), or association with a paragraph style in the latter configuration (this second one is my preferred but it requires careful planning of the collection of styles and rigorous definition of their usage context).

However, mastering the combination list+paragraph styles is one the two most difficult features in Writer (the other other being frame styles). So, experiment and practice on scratch documents.

If you haven’t done it yet, read the Writer Guide.

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OS: Linus 5.15
LO version:
Format: odt

My original question was, how to edit “the default Format > Bullets & Numbering configuration”.

My understanding is, you suggest not to use the list buttons on the Properties side pane. Is that correct?

Thanks for the advice! I will gladly follow it. I would still like to edit “the default Format > Bullets & Numbering configuration”. Is there a way to do that?

You can’t edit Format>Bullets & Numbering in such a way that it is persistent across applications. As soon as you leave your current list, the configuration reverts to default. And any way, it never survives the current session. This is probably explained by the fact the command (and corresponding buttons) are direct formatting and a very special case of direct formatting to cope with multiple “separate” lists which must remain as they were when typed.

My only known way to customise reliably and predictably my lists is with a list style; I don’t use the list buttons because they create too many document maintenance and tuning problems. Be aware that is quite confusing when you discover such styles.

My configuration:
Fedora Linux 36 with kernel presently 6.0.7
Desktop manager: KDE Plasma
LO version:

OK. Thank you very much!

Is there an easy way to apply and manage styles, except through the Styles side pane?

The styles side pane is the most comprehensive tool as it gives you access to paragraph, character, frame, page and list styles but you must avoid its Properties view which is direct formatting, not styling. You should use the styles side pane (F11 view) only to double-click on style names.

The most difficult part is the preparatory phase where you design your style collection (customising built-in styles and adding user styles). For this, think in terms of significance, not appearance. The styles are a semantic markup to tell what is discourse (Text Body), heading (Heading n), comment, note (Footnote), explanation, important (Emphasis or Strong Emphasis), … The same goes for pages: cover (First Page), discourse (Default Page Style or Left Page and Right Page), TOC, index, …
Once you have defined the semantic categories of your text, you give the styles distinctive attributes so that they are visually different and convey part of the significance or at least hints about it to the reader.
It is important to proceed in this order, not the other way round, because the same attribute, e.g. italics may mean different things like emphasis or foreign word. It is important to keep meaning separte through styles so that you can change emphasis to to red without changing simultaneously foreign words otherwise, ou’ll have to check manually every occurrence).

As as author you have a personal “style” (here this is not a Writer style) which is your “signature” in all your documents. Translate this “style” as a collection of Writer styles only once in a template and base your documents on the template. This will spare you the pain to recreate the styles over and over.