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Adobe FrameMaker: Setting up Nested Lists

by Barb Binder, Adobe Certified Instructor on FrameMaker
Updated on Nov 7, 2016

From a recent Rocky Mountain Training Advanced FrameMaker student:

I am working with a two-level list. The first level uses numbers, and the second list uses letters. The numbers start out correctly; as do the letters, but when I go back to numbers, things get wacky. What is going on? Here’s what a typical list looks like:

  1. xxx
  2. xxx
  3. xxx
    1. xxx
    2. xxx
    3. xxx
    4. xxx
    5. xxx
  4. xxx

The numbers are incrementing incorrectly, but why? It’s because the numbered list is picking up from where the lettered list left off.  To FrameMaker, the letter “e” is the 5th letter of the alphabet, so when it sees the <n+> in the next paragraph , it adds 1 to the counter value and displays a “6”.

The trick is to look at the numbers as columns. I’ll sketch them out on paper for complex situations. Here’s how numbering properties should look for each of these paragraph formats:

Adobe FrameMaker: Understanding numbered lists

Series Label. The series label tells FrameMaker that these two paragraph formats are part of the same numbering series. I use S for a series of steps, but any letter will do.

List 123. The <n+>. building block in column 1 will add 1 to the current counter, and display the result as an arabic numeral, followed by a period. The < =0> resets the column 2 counter back to 0 for each new sublist, but the space says not to show it. (The \t is the tab character to add spacing after the number.)
Adobe FrameMaker: Level 1 numbered lists

List abc. The < > holds the counter value in column 1 (it won’t increment), but the space says not to show it. The <a+>. in column 2 adds 1 to the current counter value (which was reset to 0 in the previous paragraph), and displays the result as a letter, followed by a period. (The \t is the tab character to add spacing after the letter.)
Adobe FrameMaker: Level 2 lettered lists

The result?

  1. xxx
  2. xxx
  3. xxx
    1. xxx
    2. xxx
    3. xxx
    4. xxx
    5. xxx
  4. xxx

NOTE: Setting up just these two tags assumes you are using another paragraph to restart the numeric counter. For more information on restarting lists, see ” Adobe FrameMaker: How to Restart a Numbered List”.

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Adobe FrameMaker: Setting up Nested Lists

  1. I am working with Framemaker for the past one month and spent sleepless nights urging Framemaker’s numbered list to behave. (I worked on MS word before).
    This article showed me that there is no limit to the level of nesting in numbered lists ( I tried till 5).
    Thank you.

  2. I just want to thank you for providing this info. I am working as a tech writer in the industry and can’t tell you how much time you’ve saved me, esp with respect to lists and numbered headings! What a lifesaver. I used the above info for lists in FM 12 and it works beautifully. I had set up numbered headings and lists using methods/styles that worked great in FM 10, and then come to find that they didn’t work in FM 12. Checked your website and bam! Solutions found! Thank you so much.