What exactly is direct formatting?

Direct formatting is often referred to as manual formatting. I take that to mean any formatting that is not applied by styles.

However, that does not appear to be the case. There is at least one exception. When I manually apply bullets or numbering via the formatting toolbar, clearing manual formatting does not clear the bullets or numbering.

So, is manually applied bullets or numbering the only exception to the definition of direct formatting?

What exactly is direct formatting?

It’s still direct formatting, as it is direct formatting to apply language settings through character formatting / language menu instead of using character or paragraph styles, but Writer refuses to clean those clear cases of direct formatting. There is a bug report for the second issue and I remember seeing something about the first one, but discussion ended nowhere on both of them.

In a nutshell: your definition of direct formatting is good, but there are a couple of situations on which Writer does not behave all that well and you need to use a workaround: the toggle button for manually created lists, the language menu on the status bar to reset manually changed language.

BTW, things get funny when you apply a list style directly to a paragraph: you need to go to the paragraph formatting dialogue to fix it. Never apply list styles directly to isolated paragraphs, list styles are intended to be called from paragraph styles.

Thank you for the rapid response. Just to be clear: those are the only exceptions, correct?

Your answer raises another question. I don’t see how to change language using styles. How is that done?

You can set the language on the Font tab - don’t ask me why.

The connection in LibreOffice 6.0 looks more understandable. The Font menu has settings for Asian text font and CTL font. So, there is a direct connection between font and language in the updated LO.

Now I just need to understand how the language settings there interact with language settings elsewhere. Will post separately about that.