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Adobe InDesign: Basic Nested Lists

By Barb Binder, Adobe Certified Instructor on InDesign

Lists help us get organized and numbered lists indicate the correct order to perform a series of tasks. But what if you have subtasks? Then you need a nested list.

  1. Create two paragraph styles: one for the main steps and one for the sub steps. I’ll call mine List Level 1 and List Level 2. I recommend basing List Level 2 on List Level 1 to save formatting time.
  2. Define the numbering options for List Level 1 as follows:
    1. In Paragraph Style Options > Bullets and Numbering, choose List Type: Numbers.
    2. Choose New List from the List menu and name the list. I’ll call mine Nested List1. All levels of the same list will need to use the same name.
    3. In the Level box, choose 1.
    4. In the Format menu, choose the type of numbering you want to use. I am selecting 1, 2, 3, 4 for my main points list.
    5. In the Number box, enter metacharacters or select metacharacters from the menus to describe the number formatting you want for list items at this level. I am using ^#.^t. This inserts the current level, followed by a period, followed by a tab.
    6. Set the Mode to Continue from Previous Numbers.
    7. Adjust the Bullet or Number Position values to specify the alignment and indents.
      Adobe InDesign: Nested Lists
  3. Define the numbering options for List Level 2 as follows:
    1. In Paragraph Style Options > General, set Based On to List Level 1.
    2. In Paragraph Style Options > Bullets and Numbering, choose List Type: Numbers.
    3. Choose Nested List1 from the List menu. Remember, all levels of the same list will need to use the same name.
    4. In the Level box, choose 2.
    5. From the Format menu, choose the type of numbering you want to use. I am selecting a, b, c, d. for my sub list steps.
    6. In the Number box, enter the same metacharacters as for the main list. I am using ^#.^t. This inserts the current level, followed by a period, followed by a tab.
    7. Set the Mode to Continue from Previous Numbers.
    8. Enable the Restart Numbers At This Level After: checkbox and choose Any Previous Level to start each sub list with a.
    9. Adjust the Bullet or Number Position values to specify the alignment and indents.
      Adobe InDesign: Nested Lists

Occasionally, you may want to repeat the previous level. For that, simply add ^1 to the beginning the Number definition on List Level 2 from ^1^#.^t. This will include the numbering prefix from the higher level.

Adobe InDesign: Nested Lists

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