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7.4 Formatting Lists with MS Word and LO Writer

After images and tables, ordered and unordered lists are among the most common special elements inserted into documents. In this section, we will briefly explain how to use tools in MS Word and LO Writer to insert and format lists. However, before we do, we will begin by explaining the drawbacks of lists and provide alternatives to using lists in your documents.

What is an Ordered versus an Unordered List?
An ordered list is a list that uses numbers such as 1, 2, 3, 4 to rank the elements in the list. These numbers can be styled in various ways. An unordered list which is also called a bulleted list uses symbols such as a dot at the beginning of a paragraph to indicate a series of items in a list. These list symbols can be formatted in various ways as we review below.

Drawbacks of Using Formatted Lists
The formatting used to create formatted lists is not well supported when converting to Epub books and or web pages. The list itself will be converted. But the formatting may vary wildly from the appearance you had originally intended. Not only might the numbers and symbols be different, but the spacing between formatted list items can vary wildly. This is almost certain to alter your page layout and page number sequences resulting in your content appearing on different page numbers depending on the document framework you readers are using. This is what we have been working hard trying to avoid.

The solution to this problem is not to stop using lists. Rather it is to stop using formatted ordered and unordered lists and replace them with lists that do not using list formatting. Below are some alternatives to formatted lists.

Alternatives to Using Formatted Lists
In both MS Word and LO Writer, you can use words or hash signs to replace formatted lists. Here is an example of using words to indicate a series of steps or points:

 

Point 1…

Point 2…

Point 3…

Step 1:

Step 2:

Step 3:

Here is an example of using hash marks:

#1 Here is my first item.

#2 Here is my second item.

#3 Here is my third item.

Using combinations of hash marks and words, it is almost always possible and often clearer in meaning to use alternatives to formatted lists. But just in case your job requires you to use formatted lists, below is how to insert and format them, first in MS Word and then in LO Writer.

How to Insert and Format Lists with MS Word
Place your cursor where you want to insert a list. Then right click. A formatting screen will appear with icons for either a Bulleted or Numbered List.

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Click on the Bullet drop down arrow to see the bullet style options:

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Alternately, click on the Number drop down arrow to see the number style options:

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Click on the Roman Numeral option. This will place the roman number for one in your document. Type a sentence and press Enter on your keyboard.

Pressing Enter will enter a new line with the roman number for two. Here is the result of pressing Enter three times:

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How to Insert and Format Lists with LO Writer
Place your cursor where you want to start a list. Then right click and click on Bullets and Numbering (alternately in the top menu, you can click on Format, Bullets and Lists).

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You can either choose to go to the complete Bullets and Numbering screen where you have all kinds of customization options.

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Or if you are in a hurry, you can just click on a Bullet list which will insert a simple bullet list Or you can click on the Number list which will insert a simple number list. Or you can add an alphabetical list or roman numeral list. Below are the numbering list options.

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If you have a complex multi-level list, you can click on Outline to set up your complex list:

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If you do not want your list levels indented so much, you can adjust the indenting by clicking on the Position tab:

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Finally, if you want to use your own custom symbols, this can be done with the Image or Customize tab (which is linked to the Writer Gallery icons).

But as a reminder, please keep your formatted lists to the minimum if you want your document to be reliably convertible to Ebooks and web pages.

What’s Next?
Now that we know how to format Tables and Lists, in the next chapter, we will review some important steps and tools to finish your documents.