Multilevel List: Numbering Style and Paragraph Style

LibreOffice Version and OS Information is as follows:
- LibreOffice Writer Version:
- Build ID: FreeBSD ports 6.3.6
- OS: FreeBSD 12.1; UI render: default; VCL: gtk2; 
- Locale: en-US (C); UI-Language: en-US
I have created and edited two Multi-level List Styles and have formatted my document with 
these Styles.  Those Styles are as follows:

Multi-Level List Style [1]
Numbering Style  "Chapter Numbering"
Paragraph Styles "Heading 1" ... "Heading 9"

Multi-Level List Style [2]
Numbering Style  "Example 123"                 ## Customized Style
Paragraph Styles "Example 1" ... "Example 9"   ## Customized Style


Numbering Style “Chapter Numbering” is edited using Tools->Chapter Numbering…
Paragraph Style "Heading " is edited using Paragraph Styles

Numbering Style “Example 123” is edited using List Styles
Paragraph Style "Example " is edited using Paragraph Styles

So even though “Chapter Numbering” and “Example 123” are List Styles each are edited


List Style “Chapter Numbering” is not present under List Styles; which segues into Problem [1]s’ approach to editing List Styles “Chapter Numbering” and “Example 123”. So the ways in which these styles are edited and presented are neither consistent with nor congruent to each other.


Applying Paragraph Style “Example 2”, which is assigned to Numbering Style “Example 123” and outline level 2, to my target, does not result in a corresponding change in that targets’ outline level. Here, the observed behavior does not match the expected behavior. When I apply Paragraph Style “Example 2”, which has been edited and assigned outline level 2, I expect the target to be changed to outline level 2.


If I click to the left of "Example " and press “Tab” then there is a change in the targets’ outline level; but that change does not match the styles’ edited and assigned outline level. Additionally, there is no corresponding change under the Paragraph Style Menu to indicate the targets’ outline level has been changed. Here, the observed behavior does not match the expected behavior.

The observed behavior ought to match the results of the activating process for Paragraph Styles "Heading " and List Style “Chapter Numbering”. List Style “Chapter Numbering” is activated, automatically, when its’ corresponding Paragraph Styles "Heading " is activated. So, at the present moment, activating each Paragraph style for Multi-Level List [1] and [2] results in observable behavior that is neither consistent with nor congruent to each other; when, in fact they ought to be.

For example, when I select Paragraph Style and apply Heading 2 to my target, then that target changes to Outline Level 2 (Heading 2 is assigned Outline Level 2). Here, the observed behavior matches the expected behavior. When I click to the left of “Heading 1”, formatted as a Multi-level List, and press “Tab” then that Heading changes to Level 2 from Level 1, as is expected. Additionally, there is a corresponding change under the Paragraph Style indicating the target has been changed to “Heading 2” (“Heading 2” is assigned Outline Level 2). Here, the observed behavior matches the expected behavior. However, and note, the preceding changes visible under Paragraph Styles do not occur when the corresponding style activation is applied to "Example ".

Multi-Level List Style [1]
Numbering Style  "Chapter Numbering"
Paragraph Styles "Heading 1" ... "Heading 9"

Expected Behavior and Observed Behavior

- 1. Heading 1			== Outline Level 1
- 1.1 Heading 2			== Outline Level 2

- 2. Heading 1			== Outline Level 1
- 2.1 Heading 2			== Outline Level 2
Multi-Level List Style [2]
Numbering Style  "Example 123"                 ## Customized Style
Paragraph Styles "Example 1" ... "Example 9"   ## Customized Style

- List Styles -> 
- New ->
 - Tab.Organizer.Name           "Example 123"
 - Tab.Outline.Select           "Numeric with all sublevels"
 - Tab.Position ->              ...Multiple Options Set
 - Tab.Customize ->             ...Multiple Options Set

- Paragraph Styles ->
- New ->
 - Tab.Organizer.Name ->                           "Example 1"
 - Tab.Outline and Numbering.Outline level ->      "Level 1"
 - Tab.Outline and Numbering.Numbering style ->    "Example 123"

Paragraph Style "Example X" follows the above editing process and to each corresponding
edit, "Example X" is assigned Outline level: "Level X".
Expected Behavior

- 1. Heading 1		== Outline Level 1
- Example 2			== Outline Level 2
- Example 2			== Outline Level 2

- 1.1 Heading 2		== Outline Level 2
- Example 3			== Outline Level 3
- Example 3			== Outline Level 3
Observed Behavior

- 1. Heading 1		== Outline Level 1
- Example 2			== Outline Level 1
- Example 2			== Outline Level 1

- 1.1 Heading 2		== Outline Level 2
- Example 3			== Outline Level 1
- Example 3			== Outline Level 1

Additionally, Seeking Verification that the problems I have listed are indeed Bug 62032

(edited by ajlittoz for better readability)
(edited by Atticus to shorten the text)

There is a flaw in your use of lists caused by a misunderstanding of the concept of multilevel list. And the is also an “inconsistency” in LO to follow traditional typographic usage.

#Multi-level list

As you noticed, to get an automatically numbered list, you need to associate a paragraph style with a sequence counter badly named list style. And this is enough to define 10 levels.

An LO list is supposed to have an homogeneous look shared by all levels. An initial tab at the beginning of the list item increases its level without changing the paragraph style. Shift+tab decreases the level. In other words, the same paragraph style is applied across all levels.

This is intentional according to the traditional homogeneity requirement in a list.

#Chapter numbering

Basically, headings (chapters, sub-chapters, …) are members of a list dedicated to the structure of document frequently designated as the outline. This is why the levels of this list are named outline level.

The chapter number list is isolated from the other lists to avoid adverse and catastrophic interference which would mess up the smooth numbering. This is done use a special list style Outline Numbering. This list style is protected by not being listed in the list styles list: you cannot associate any paragraph style to it, thus leaving it only available to the chapter and TOC machinery (answer to problem two).

Due to a long typographic tradition, formatting of the various levels are different. This can’t be done with a single paragraph style. Consequently, Writer breaks the simplicity of the list feature by associating one paragraph style per level. This is where the “inconsistency” is introduced. But as chapter numbering is much more frequently used than real multi-level list (most lists are only 1-level), people think that is the base model for list instead of vice versa. The frequency is also the reason to offer quick access to the Heading n styles with Ctrl+n and the paragraph style menu (answer to problem one).

#Outline levels

The outline levels are a way to tell Writer which paragraphs will be part of the table of contents (TOC). By default, only Heading n paragraph are mark as such, but you can add more, e.g. to have unnumbered chapters like dedication, preface also entered into the TOC, or to change the numbering style for a part of the book, e.g. numeric numbers in the body and alphabetic “numbers” for annexes. This is necessary because a list style has only one formatting for its sequencec ounter (it is fully numeric or fully alphabetic but can’t be mixed).

Consequently, you don’t allocate outline levels to paragraph styles which won’t be collected in the TOC. Your configuration of Example n are consequently faulty.

This writes out your problem three because a list has outline level Body text and its level is handled with tab or Shift+tab.

#Multiple lists

Membership to a list is characterised by the list style. Several paragraph styles may be associated with the same list style. This is not done to change the appearance depending on the level but to change the emphasis ot formatting of the item. You may the have a BaseItem paragraph style with regular weight and an ImportantItem differing only by bold weight to draw attention of the reader on this item within the list.

Using different list styles allows to mix independent lists within each other (not recommended because difficult to read) without effect on their numbering.

Think about the notions I have just sketched above and reexamine your use. If it still does not make sense for you, ask a new question with a concrete example where the Writer specification is causing an incompatibility between your expected formatting and the result. Note I am talking about formatting and result, not about the ergonomy (feature handling by user) because user interface and application control is not an exact science, it is based on psychology, culture, expectations and many others and has yet no definitive theory, agreement and answer.

To show the community your question has been answered, click the ✓ next to the correct answer, and “upvote” by clicking on the ^ arrow of any helpful answers. These are the mechanisms for communicating the quality of the Q&A on this site. Thanks!

The problems I’ve written about are also discussed in Bug 62032.

Comment 14 under Bug 62032. Partial Quote (need more chars)

Comment 14 2019-12-27 22:34:22 UTC

Have changed bug summary to better express the problem.

To understand the problem.

Start in a Paragraph Style dialog box (e.g., Format > Paragraph for any line).

  1. Ignore “Outline Level” in this dialog box. It is not relevant for this issue.
  2. Click on drop-down box in Numbering Style, choose one you like.
  3. Now, edit that chosen Numbering Style (i.e., View > Styles (F11), click on List Style icon.
  4. Find the Style chosen in step 1, right-click, Modify
  5. For different levels, set different values for Number.

Now here is the problem…how do you tell your paragraph style which numbering level (which was set in step 4) to use for the numbering style chosen in step 1? (The claim is: You can’t – with one exception noted below).

If you’re talking about the particular chapter numbering issue and not about list numbering (which are different things based on the same underlying feature), there is an easy compensate for the difference.

Since chapter numbering is also a “standard” list, type enough tab at head of paragraph to promote paragraph to desired level.

This how I manage the custom alphabetical numbering of my annexes and sub-annexes after the standard numeric chapter numbering.

I appreciate your quick response and thank you for your time. Also LibreOffice is a very impressive office suite!

I don’t want to say my problems are resolved just yet. I’m awaiting a response from the owner of Bug 62032.

I have one other problem. I can not create a TOC for Paragraph Style Example . My document will have multiple TOCs and their entries will include Heading, Equation, Example, and so on. I shall research these problems further.

To include any paragraph, whether numbered or not, it does not matter, just set its outline level in the Outline & Numbering tab of the paragraph style. You can thus add to the TOC items which are not chapter headers. It is part of my trick for alphabetical numbered annexes.