How to fix a "boxed" style so bullets don't break alignment?


I’m attaching a document that shows behavior I’m trying to fix. In a nutshell, my paragraph format has a background color and when I use the bullet button to bulletize a list, everything misaligns. How do I fix that, without having to create a new style? Adding a new style forces changes in a system that works, and I’m not in a position to force people to make that change to the system.


LO-Alignment problem.odt (20.7 KB)

Adding a new style forces changes in a system that works,…

Really? Then why would you want to change anything.

and I’m not in a position to force people to make that change to the system.

Yes, and that’s why there’s something called persuasion.

In our country they say: wash my back, but don’t get me wet.
But it has not worked so far.

You say that adding a new style forces changes in a system that works, but evidently it doesn’t work if you are having this problem.

Do you work for a company where other people are giving you limitations on how you are allowed to do things?

Can you talk to them and explain the problem you are encountering?

If so, I’m sure you could get help here to come up with a solution to this issue.

Hmmm… So what I’m hearing is that there isn’t a way to keep a harmonious format with a shaded background when I use bullets, unless I create a new style.

That’s what I needed to know, thanks!

You must understand some subtleties about lists, bullet and numbered the same. They use a combination of a paragraph style (for general aspect of list item text) and a so-called list style. The list style takes over the geometry of the left side of the paragraph (in LTR languages, the right side in RTL). This means left indent and first line indent will be replaced by properties of the list style defined in the Position tab.

Therefore, if you want the item text to keep the same position compared to the unbulleted paragraph, you must set compatible distances in the list style:

  • Indent at: equal to Left indent, i.e. 1.27cm (in Box Callout)
  • Tab stop: equal to Indent at (but may also be set at 0 since the indent implicitly defines a tab stop)
  • Aligned at: more difficult to give it a “natural” distance
    If you want the bullet to be aligned with the left border of the paragraph above, you must set the distance to left indent minus the padding space to the border, here 0.35cm; that is an Aligned at 0.88cm

This would work fine if your Box Callout had no background nor border. A bullet or number enlarges the bounding rectangle on the left. Writer will add padding to rightmost element of the paragraph, the bullet/number, and paint the background and the border with this new bounding rectangle. In short, you can never merge background and borders between non-list and list paragraphs, unless you accept to shift a bit to the right item text. In this case you align the bullet with the non-bullet left indent. Parameters are:

  • Aligned at: equal to Left indent, i.e. 1.27cm
  • Indent at: some sensible value like 1.7cm
  • Tab stop: 0 or same as Indent at

Anyway, Writer will see that Box Callout and bulleted Box Callout are not the same paragraph style and won’t merge borders (backgrounds will merge because of the geometric compatibility).

I mentioned a list style despite the fact that you used the toolbar button to bullet your list. This button is equivalent to direct formatting for lists and is even worse than you would ever think. Its working has been tweaked to offer some compatibility with Word user interaction but this leads to inconsistencies and real hard to detect issues. In short, if you have several bulleted Box Callout lists separated by other paragraphs, they will be considered as independent lists and modifying the Format>List & Numbering properties will affect only the list where the cursor is presently located. You’ll have a hard time to maintain consistency across your lists.

The best you can do, even if you don’t like it, is to define a dedicated list style with the desired properties. To be user-friendly (all the most if your users are not experts in Writer formatting and styling), create a clone of Box Callout and call it Bullet Box Callout. Make sure that the new style is derived from Box Callout so that any modification to this latter style is automatically forwarded to the new one (only one style to manage then). In Outline & List tab of Bullet Box Callout, attach the dedicated list style.

When you want to start a list, you only need to switch to Bullet Box Callout. At the end of the list, revert to Box Callout. It is as simple as that and as complicated as pressing the toolbar button.

PS: Your document, at some stage of its life, has been in contact with M$ Word which has added (or the conversion process) its dose of mess in the styles (paragraph styles List - xxx, character styles ListLabel 1 to 15, list style WWNumy). When a document is polluted like so, it is very very difficult to recover to a clean state.

Always work in native format and avoid round trips to alien formats.

Thanks for the detailed response. OK, let me see what I will do with that.

You’re right that the original styles were taken from Word, but I use LO because the formats are more structured and it’s easier to make documents conform to the agreed structure and formatting. That’s what I’m doing and at the end I generate the DOCX for the client.

OK, I’ll have to figure out if I want to get into all of that. I really don’t like using Word for general writing when following formatting standards is important, but…