OOo Off the Wall: It's Numbering, but Not as We Know It
The Position tab contains options for how list items are positioned on a line of text. The tab's options especially are important for single-style outline numbering. However, all list types can use the options on the Position tab:
Indent: sets the space between the numbering field and the start of the line. If the style uses outline numbering, select the Relative box to set the indent in relation to the start of the line in the previous level of the hierarchy. Based on HTML, many users automatically indent a list from the text body paragraphs. However, habit seems to be the only reason for this practice. There often is no reason why a top-level list should have an indent. Sub-lists can be indented to show their relation to the top level list, but even that is not always necessary. Often, the change in numbering format is enough.
Spacing to text: the distance between the numbering field and the start of the text. If this option is not used, then the starting position of the text shifts when the number of digits in a numbered list changes (for example, when changing to two digit numbers at 10). This setting takes some fiddling to get right. Too little spacing looks cramped but too much disassociates the bullets or numbers from the list items.
Position -> Minimum space numbering -> text: set a minimum distance between the number and the start of the text in the first line. The other lines in the paragraph either are aligned with the text or use the setting in the Spacing to text field. If the option is used, the starting position of the text shifts when the number of digits changes in the list.
Numbering alignment: how the number or bullet is positioned in its field. Although this option has some use in complex layouts, especially when dealing with large numbers, for the most part you can leave it at the default setting of Left and ignore it.
If you want to create a numbered list quickly, you can select the style from the Numbering style tab. The pre-defined choices for numbered lists often are all that you need. For anything out of the ordinary, go directly to the Options tab and use these settings:
Numbering: set the numbering format. Arabic numbers, upper and lower case Roman numerals and letters are all available.
Before / After: sets the characters before and after the number. For example, before the number you might want Chapter, while after the number a simple period or parentheses might do.
Character style: the character style used for formatting numbers. In a simple document, you can use the default Numbering symbol. However, if you are using differently formatted numbered lists, you should create a different character style for each format.
Start at: The number at which numbered lists should start. This is also the number that a paragraph reverts to when you select the Restart Numbering button on the List Mode tool bar.
You can select a pre-defined bullet from the Bullet tab. If you want something more elaborate, you can select a bullet from the Graphics tab. These bullets are the same ones found in Tools -> Gallery -> Bullets. The bullets on the Graphics tab are most suitable for on-line work, but I suggest you avoid using them. As a friend remarked, the available choices are "so mid-Nineties" that they seem quaint. Fortunately, more interesting tools are available on the Options tab.
If you select Bullets in the Numbering field, you then can select the character style to use and the particular character for the bullet. In an ordinary font, you can select various characters for a bullet. However, if you set the character style to a dingbat set--a font in which characters are replaced by pictures--you can be even more creative. Just remember that if you open the document on another machine, it needs to have the same dingbat font to depict the bullets properly.
Incidentally, if your document might be opened in MS Word, change the character style to one that MS Word can access. The default Bullets character style uses StarSymbol to create bullets and generally is not available to MS Word. Alternatively, you might want to use the Adobe Type Manager in Windows to load StarSymbol.
You also can create a bullet style by selecting Graphics or Linked Graphics in the Numbering field. Selecting Graphics embeds the graphic you select in the document, while Linked Graphics references the separate graphics file. Which one to select depends on circumstances, but basically, you should select Graphics to keep the document self-contained or Linked Graphics to control file size.
In both cases, the choice of graphic for a bullet deserves some thought. In most cases, the graphic is going to display at a relatively small size, so too complex a picture is out. Similarly, if the document is printed in black and white, the contrasts of a colored graphic probably are going to be lost. Usually, you'll want a simple graphic with strong contrasts in colors.
In both cases, too, the options are the same. Once you select the graphic, you can adjust its display width and height, selecting the Keep Ratio box to keep the proportions the same. You also can use Alignment to change how the graphic sits on the baseline. Be prepared for some experimentation before you find the best way to display the graphic as a bullet. Too large a graphic can distort the lines in the list item, while too small a graphic may be invisible and therefore not worth using at all.
-- Bruce Byfield (nanday)
Practical books for the most technical people on the planet. Newly available books include:
- Agile Product Development by Ted Schmidt
- Improve Business Processes with an Enterprise Job Scheduler by Mike Diehl
- Finding Your Way: Mapping Your Network to Improve Manageability by Bill Childers
- DIY Commerce Site by Reven Lerner
Plus many more.