Handling of indents and bullets in list styles

I am using Scrivener 3.0.1 on Mac OS 10.13.2.

I have attempted to set up a style for an indented, bulleted list. The style is created under the name I give it and the shortcut I nominate works. The style appears in the drop down styles list and in the styles pane.

When I apply the style the target text font is formatted correctly but neither the indent nor the bullet is applied. When I apply the indent and bullet manually - from the list drop down menu - and press return, the indent and bullet are applied and the ‘paragraph’ is in the list style of its predecessor.

I think I could use the style to hold indents and bullets in previous versions?

Yes, I can format manually or post compilation - but I would prefer to do it in Scrivener, if possible.

Any ideas, especially Scrivener techs?


As far as I understand it, bullets and lists are independent of styles (they were independent of formatting in V2 as well, I think, but I could be wrong) — the information is not retained in the style format.

So, you either create the bullet and then apply the stye, or apply the style and then create the bullet and both should end up with the same effect, which will be retained for the next bullet/list item.

If your body text is in the default ‘No Style’ format (and it usually should be), that means that you’re usually only having to deal with the bullet point.

The only caveat is that there seems to be a bug in the Apple text system that if you start a document off with a bullet point/list item, the text is changed to Helvetica. This happens in TextEdit as well. In Scrivener, you can override it by applying the style immediately (usually cmd-opt-0 the default ‘No Style’).

That’s my understanding anyway.

Yeah, that’s correct. Lists are a macOS text engine feature that we can’t modify the behaviour of. Styles are a completely custom addition to the engine that is built on top of it. It’s a technical incompatibility basically—something probably only resolved by making a whole new text engine, or at the very least rebuilding significant components of it.

Yup, you can get the same effect in TextEdit.

Thanks AmberV and brookter. I was beginning to suspect there is no way to define a style as containing a list, and it’s good to have this confirmed.

I don’t think Nisus Writer Pro can do this either. Microsoft and Adobe, on the other hand, have done what it takes to make this possible in Word and InDesign.

That’s interesting, Nisus Writer Pro is also built on the same text engine we use—though since they are making a word processor, they put most of their development effort into enhancing the engine itself (and it shows), whereas we put most of that into the writing management features (which hopefully shows). NWP is a good partner with Scrivener for that reason though. The RTF out of Scrivener is of the same dialect it uses.

Adobe and Word on the other hand port their entire universe of programming into the Mac rather than use its native frameworks directly. They of course also have billions of dollars to spend on making their own universes. :slight_smile:

Anyway, we did look into the matter long and hard when putting together the initial specs, but we had to accept fairly early on that “list styles” would be something for the pie in the sky list.

Thanks, that also is interesting. I’m a long-time user of NWP, which is the tool I turn to for munging long documents with grep or any of the cool things I can do with macros (mostly written by people far cleverer than me). I don’t use NWP as much as I’d like to, though, because I have to take Word files from other people, and the formatting hassles aren’t worth the trouble.

Which I guess explains things like Adobe’s custom dialogs for opening and saving files. But I do like InDesign (have you noticed it has better text drag-and-drop than any other app I can think of?). Whereas what Microsoft has done with its billions is anyone’s guess…

[size=80]Source: Wikipedia[/size]

In trying to overcome this issue myself, I did find that I could make a keyboard shortcut for a basic bulleted list by adding s shortcut to the menu item ‘•’ in the keyboard preferences pane. Not the perfect solution but certainly quicker than having to jump up to the dropdown menu every time you want to start a list.

Great idea!

Hello everyone. Realize this thread has been inactive for a while but thought I’d share a recent discovery related to this issue. I often use bullet lists when developing a script. As such this behavior - default to Helvetica 12pt - has been driving me quietly mental for quite some time. Here’s a simple and effective workaround that has made me slightly less quietly ebullient. I don’t get out much. Here goes:

  • Use Keyboard Maestro to set up a Bullet List keyboard shortcut
  • Write text using your preferred font
  • Execute keyboard shortcut
  • Hit return and list make away in your non-Helvetica font

Hope that this proves useful to someone.

Nice one. I couldn’t live without LaunchBar and TextExpander. I really ought to give Keyboard Maestro a try.

Hi Kohl,

how you did it? May you post the Keyboard Maestro Macro? Actually Keyboard Maestro is a very complex tool and I ask my self how to start with it.


The basic steps are:

a) Create a new macro (+ in the right hand panel), name it and give it the shortcut you want.
b) Add a New Action to the new macro – choose ‘Select or Show a Menu Item’. (You’ll find it easier to type ‘Menu’ into the search bar than go through all the options…)
c) Select ‘Scrivener’ from the list in ‘Select menu in’…, then click on Menu and navigate until you reach the required entry. Once you’ve chosen that, you’re done.

Here’s what it looks like when it’s finished. Now F1 calls the numerical list.

If you use this technique a lot (I have tens of them), then eventually you’ll want to group various shortcuts together. Keyboard Maestro has a feature called Palettes – basically they’re are a popup menu which you call with a single shortcut, then a single letter/number to choose the sub option.

Here’s the one I use for Scrivener Styles: I call it with alt-s – so in reality to call the macro for List 1. in the screenshot above, I only have to type alt-s 1. This is a lot simpler than remember so many shortcuts! (NB, in the first screenshot, I used F1 as a dummy shortcut key for convenience. In reality, it’s set to ‘1’, because I call it from the palette below.)

You’ll see that this palette replicates some features which already have shortcuts (eg Inline Annotation), because sometimes it’s just simpler to have all the most used commands on a single shortcut. I have all my Collection/Binder shortcuts on a separate palette for this reason.

If you’re only just starting with KM, then you may want to leave palettes for a while to get comfortable with basic macros – the tutorial walks you through how to do them when you’re ready.


Just bumped into this issue myself. Sure, we can work around it. I’m using Keyboard Maestro myself for many tasks. But it doesn’t change the fact that the year 2020 is near and that we can’t make a bullet part of a paragraph style in a writing application.