How to solve particular list need in style with features

As your questions are becoming more and more targeted to your work and less general, I suggest we continue privately. Contact me at ajlittoz (at) users (dot) sourceforge (dot) net. As soon as we’ve made a handshake mail exchange, you’ll have my real email.

Automatic lists is the most difficult feature to configure in Writer because it involves two style categories: a paragraph style and a list style (in fact a counter definition). But, once set up, you no longer use the list button, otherwise you mess up your setting.

You already have defined your Summary **paragraph style. You must associate it with a counter. Open your Summary definition and go to the Outline & Formatting tab. In section Numbering, select from Numbering style drop-down menu Numbering 123. OK

This has the effect to assign the Numbering 123 list style to your Summary paragraph style.

Every paragraph so styled will have automatically a list item number.

To tune the formatting of the items (with regard to indents), you must modify the list style and not the paragraph style because the list style settings take precedence over those of the paragraph style. List styles are listed in the side style pane (F11 if not yet visible) by clicking on the fifth icon in the toolbar.

Right-click on Numbering 123 and Modify. The settings are in Position and Customize tabs.

CAUTION! Don’t play with BulletsImage tabs because they ruin what you have set in the aforementioned tabs and you’ll have to start over again.

How to use Summary?

When you want to type a list item, just style the paragraph Summary. Don’t use the list button.

If you follow the recipe above in an existing document where you have already Summary paragraphs with List button added, remove first the effect of the List button otherwise Writer will get confused and you won’t be able to format your list.


Numbering 123 is now associated with Summary and should not be used with other paragraph styles. Numbering 123 defines one list; So unless other paragraph styles are only stylistic variations of Summary intended to be part of the same list, avoid multi-association or you’ll be disconcerted by the result.

To get occasionally unnumbered list items, put the cursor at the very beginning of the item (just after the auto number) and hit Backspace key.

You can’t have holes in the numbering sequence. All you can do is restart from 1.

This will work fine as long as you save .odt. Don’t save .doc(x) because Word has no notion of list styles and you will lose your definition after a round trip.

##Answer to additional need

Any list is multi-level, i.e. it behaves the same as chapter numbering (the underlying device is the same). Therefore, to get “37A” you force your list item to level 2 by typing a Tab at start of its text.

If you later change your mind and want to revert to level 1, put the cursor at the very beginning of the item and press Shift+Tab.

You need to customize the list style to number alphabetically level 2. Right-click on Numbering 123. In Options, select level 2 and set Number to A, B, C and Show sublevels to 2. In Position, ensure properties of level 1 and 2 are the same so that your level 2 is not indented relative to level 1.

Define an auxiliary character style Hidden: in Font Effects, tick Hidden.


You can’t remove the internal dot separator. Your numbering will be “36.A”.


Type a dummy level-1 item in order to set numbering to 36. This item must contain at least one character. Select the item in its entirety and apply Hidden character style. Press Enter.

Reset to Default character style. Press Tab (this sets numbering to 36.A). Type the level-2 item with its eventual index entry. Press Enter (you are at 36.B). Etc.

Type Shift+Tab to continue with 37.

##Comments about the sample file

No offence intended but your styling is even worse than I thought.

Don’t use empty paragraph to vertically space your text. Attributes “Spacing above & below” in Indents & Spacing tab of paragraph style definition is made for this vertical spacing. Of course this requires to carefully design the set styles. From personal experience on this type of document, you need ~15 paragraph styles, not counting Heading n and Contents n. Remember that all built-in styles can be customised and they are already organised hierarchically.

Don’t use direct formatting inside paragraphs. Character styles bring you more versatility and control. Again from personal experience, you need ~10 styles. Start by customising built-ins, notably Emphasis and Strong Emphasis.

In your document you made a big mistake which precludes you from achieved your goal with your lists.

NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER (yes, repeated seven times) mix lists and chapter numbering. You are creating conflicts. Chapter numbering is a special list. You added manually the list attribute with the toolbar button to Sommario regesto while you also assigned it to level 3 in Tools>Chapter Numbering. This confuses Writer (and you even more) because a paragraph can be attached to only one list counter. Which one is chosen in this error case is unknown and leads to undefined results.

To add to the confusionn the default Format>Bullets a Numbering can be reset in various contexts, restarting numbering without you requesting it!

I first cleaned your document:

  • remove the manual list attribute from the Sommario regesto paragraphs
  • revert level 3 Tools>Chapter Numbering to standard Heading 3
  • clear direct formatting in your Riferimento atto and Sommario regesto paragraphs (just in case)

I modified your Sommario regesto:

  • Outline & Numbering to attach it to list style Numbering 123; I also made sure Outline level is Text Body
  • I erased indents Before text and First line in Indents & Spacing because these parameters are managed by the list style (even in the default case).

Numbering 123 was customized as follows:

  • Position: level 1 and 2 received the same Tab stop at 1.5cm and Indent at 1.5cm (as was set in your initial Sommario regesto
  • Customize: Number 1, 2, 3 and Show sublevels 1 for level 1, A, B, C and 2 for level 2

Unfortunately you bump into a Writer bug. When there is a (left) border with padding, Writer does not compute correctly the indent distance for lines 2+ in a list item.I tried to compensate for this error but all my settings were ignored.

I also created a character style Invisibile with sole attribute Hidden in Font Efects tab.

When this was done, I also restyled your Sommario regesto (2nd level) paragraphs to Sommario regesto because, as I explained, lists in Writer are multi-level.

How to number items 9.Z?

You do not want to “introduce” your 9 series with an explicit sub-title, but this introductory item is necessary to manage numbering.

Therefore I typed a Sommario regesto item containing “Dummy paragraph” before your “4.A Acquisto del signor Salamon”. I selected all the text in this dummy paragraph and applied character style Invisibile. The dummy paragraph will not be printed.

Note that I used "Dummy paragraph as text but a single character is enough.

I put the cursor before “Acquisto” and pressed Tab. This promotes the list item to level 2 and 4.A appears magically.

Special TOC to collect your Sommario regesto paragraphs

You correctly configured by checking Additional styles. I only removed Sommario regesto (2nd level) for the reason above.

But you messed the TOC formatting in the Styles tab. Probably to make this table formatting independent from the real TOC you assigned Default Paragraph Style to all levels. As already mentioned, Default Paragraph Style is a “technical” style which should never be used for text in a document. If your table should have a different appearance than the TOC, create your own styles (one per level, you need two here), starting from built-in Contents n. When they are created, assign them to the levels in the Styles tab.


Noticing that your special TOC needs manual editing to remove the dummy paragraphs, I renamed Sommario regesto (2nd level) to Sommario regesto (invisibile). It is already a child of Sommario regesto but I made sure it is an exact duplicate of it by using the Standard button in every tab. I then checked Hidden in Font Effects.

Now the dummy paragraphs need only to be styled Sommario regesto (invisibile). No need to apply character style Invisibile.

Since Sommario regesto (invisibile) is not selected in Assign Styles for the special TOC, the dummy paragraphs are not collected and no manual step is necessarily to remove them.

The revised sample file is attached here.

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Very good, this is what I wanted. I cannot upvote because I don’t have enough points.

You now have enough karma to upvote.

In the meantime, thank you for your reply. However, I don’t get what I need. I’ve added more information to my main post. Thanks!