How to get Word-like nested numbered lists in Scrivener

When I create a numbered list in Word it looks like this:

  1. Item
  2. Item
    a) Item
    b) Item
    i) Item

Note the way that different numbering schemes come into play at different levels of indentation.

However, when I try to do the same thing in Scrivener only the top level of the list is numbered; subsequent levels are just dashes. How can I get Scrivener to number ever level of a numbered list?


Just use the list picker to select the format you want for each level.

Short video here:



Briar Kit

Thanks! Is there any way to do this automatically, though, or even to save it as a format once I’ve set it up? Setting up for every new list is pretty fiddly.


Not that I know of. Hope someone else can help.


Briar Kit

For anyone looking for help with lists, short video here:

There are symbolic placeholder tags for auto-numbering that are designed for various purposes. Look at the Placeholder Tags List under the Help menu in Scriv to get an idea of what your resources are.

There are autonumering placeholder tags that get replaced with iterated numbers, upper or lowercase letters, upper or lowercase Roman numerals. The only trick is that their hierarchical relations are not predefined, which means they increment independently of each other. Practically speaking, then the extra thin you must do is use a reset placeholder to restart each subnumbering at the appropriate places. Example placeholders: <$n>, <$l>, <$r>.

As for the formatting – which is here just different levels of indentation, you should just define a set of custom paragraph formatting presets and then assign key commands to them – that is how I do it.

Just a thought.



The videos posted in the thread above are 404.

Does anyone here know of a way to make Scrivener do the very simple task of a numbered list - with bulletted items within the numbered items?

I am incredulous that a supposed “writing tool” can’t do this.

I’m :smiling_imp: that I’ve paid money and invested time trying to learn this unnecessarily complicated software - that seems unable to do this SIMPLE thing.

If the software can’t do this simple thing, does anyone here have a suggestion of a REAL writing tool that does?


What are you attempting to do, and what is happening?

What should be happening:

  • Select desired list style from Format -> Lists picker. Type item.

  • To get another item at that level, hit return. To get a nested list, hit return, then tab.

  • To change the numbering format of the nested list, choose from the Format -> Lists picker again. Type item.

  • Continue as needed. To increase the nesting, hit Tab. To decrease it, Delete. To end the current list, hit Return a second time.


Hi I am fairly new to Scrivener, actually starting with version3 in earnest.

How do I get (by standard) in compile (automagically) lists which are following this example:

  1. Text
  2. Text
  3. Text
    (indented) 3.1 (Sub)Text
    3.2 (Sub)Text
  4. Text
    4.1 (Sub)Text

I would not bother in my writing manually setting things up/and or numbering but want a template applied which does all this automatically for me. I donot want to include in my manuscript Placeholder tags to set this up as it is a bit much.

I seem not to be able to define a list style which does this automatically (which then would end up properly in compile), at least so far I have been unsuccessful with this.

To compare: when writing in LaTeX I define a list and in compile this is applied according to document type, afaik Scrivener would follow this with compile. Are there other Templates available than the built in?

Thank you (not complaining as such just wrapping my mind around all this)


Exactly what level of “magic” are you looking for? Scrivener has no way of knowing that you want a list or sub-list unless you tell it, and the normal time to do that would be when you are writing the document. You can do it either by including Markdown tags or by using the RTF List tools; which is best is going to depend on your comfort with Markdown and what you ultimately want to do with the draft. But you’re never going to be able to get away from the need to say to Scrivener “this is a list, format it this way.”


Hi Katherine,

thanks for your reply. I thought, when choosing (the standard) list format this would have some impact on how this is rendered in compile, the way controlled by the template. Nevertheless, Fair enough.

Next related question: I seem to have difficulties to set up a paragraph-style sheet for numbering lists, which I can apply to a list (analog to title, sub title etc.).

I have formatted my list as I want it and tried to save it as a (paragraph) style both with selecting the line with paragraph symbol and just putting the cursor in the line. (see screenshots 01 and 02 below). In both cases the create paragraph style from selection is greyed out…

How would I set up a paragraph style which includes the list parameters as I like them, working across several sub levels (3.0, 3.1, 3.1.1) so I can just select the paragraph style from the paragraph style window (sorry German system, says “Formatvorlagen”).

Thank You. Rolf

What aspect of the formatting are you trying to save? You can define a way to format an already numbered/bulleted paragraph, but you can’t define a style that will turn a standard paragraph into a list. See this thread for more discussion:


I’m not sure if I should open a new Topic Thread for this one. It is related to the subject matter of the current thread but the issue is distinct. Forum Admin, please advise as to the best practice for this situation for future reference.

You see, Im also running into some trouble with formatting nested list in the Binder Doc Edit View.

The scenario is that, I’ve chosen a numbered list which works fine for single paragraph numbered items.When the numbered list items include multi paragraphs, I use the tab to increase the indent to changed the num to bullets or whatever.

The problem is that the serial function of the original numbered list is broken. When I add a new number listed item following a nested paragraph it formats a new list beginning with the number 1.

NOTE: I can tweet this behaviour by deleting the paragraph break and then reapplying it. However, this quickly turns whacky because the paragraph(s) serialised string begins applying ad-hock indentation that degrades the more you tweak it. , Instead of just effecting the focused paragraph the format of preceding, (numbered or nested double indented) paragraphs are effected and their format runs a-mock.

The following Screen Shot shows the first level of funcky’ness. Notice the last paragraph indent behaviour.

In the following screen shot you will see that when I remove the List Style by choosing None in the Tool Bar. The preceding, nested list items loose their formatting.

I believe that you can replicate this behaviour, so I won’t visually document the string of 'funky’ness that follows on from this point. Suffice it to say, that trying to fix up the formatting leads into a rabbit hole of further funk, and my list is all but destroyed.

Please Advise

Were you ever able to solve this problem? I’m running into it too.

No Jenna, I haven’t been able to solve the problem as of yet.

I’m just staying away from nested lists as much as possible for the time being.

I have a similar but perhaps simpler problem. I’m teaching a 10-week course, and have numbered the weeks, with each week having a description of what I do in the class.
The problem is the Hallowe’en break. I’m up to class number 6. Then there should be a break for the next week, and after that, it should be class number 7. But how can I do this?

I have this problem too. In general, I find the numbered and bulleted lists function to be problematic. I try to create styles that are numbered in the style menu but the numbering part of the style doesn’t save. So every time I want to number an item, I have to do it manually… and then it gets the numbers wrong.

I rely a lot on typical outline paragraph formatting and it’s next to impossible to do within Scriviner.

I am brand new to Scrivener. I’ve figured out how to create a custom list (so each level of indentation changes to a new character, e.g. I, A, 1, a, i, α). Reading forums, I think I should be able to either save this list style so I can automatically load it in the future and/or save it as part of a template so any time I load that template, this list style appears, but I can’t find how to do this. Any instructions?

I am still having problems described here. I am writing a manual that includes a lot of outlines. So I just want to be able to make a Harvard outline like this (note that these should be indented, but this forum doesn’t seem to allow it):

I. First item
[indent] A. First sub item
[indent] B. Second sub item
[indent][indent] 1. First sub sub item
[indent] C. Third sub item
II. Second item
[indent] A. First sub item

I have two problems. First, there doesn’t seem to be any way to set the default numbering format for each level. So that means I have to do it by hand each time I make an outline, setting it to I or A or 1 etc. And I have A LOT of outlines in the text. To be fair, once you set a numbering for a given level, that format is retained subsequently, if you are typing in the list manually. But I have a lot of lists already made. So if, for example, I change the second-order headings to A,B, C, under the first order heading I, it doesn’t detect that this should be the default for all second-order headings. So I have to do it manually for the second-order headings under II, and under III, etc. This holds for all subordinate levels. What I want is a way to select the whole list, and define the headings for each level for the entire list. And ideally, I’d like to save that as a style to apply to any list I choose. Perhaps that is now possible. If so, please tell me how.

The second major problem is that lists don’t seem to remember their unity very well. If I had the list above. If I add an item to the list above, at the beginning, I will get:

I. Added item
I. First item
[indent] A. First sub item
[indent] B. Second sub item
[indent][indent] 1. First sub sub item
[indent] C. Third sub item
II. Second item
[indent] A. First sub item

If I then put the cursor on the I. First item, back it up to the previous line, and then hit return, the numbering of the beginning of the list is fixed, but more often than not something lower down messes up, like this:

I. Added item
II. Old First item
[indent] A. First sub item
[indent] B. Second sub item
[indent][indent] 1. First sub sub item
[indent] C. Third sub item
[indent] A. First sub item

What I need is a way of selecting a bunch of lines that Scrivener thinks are different lists and telling it they are one list and so should be numbered sequentially. I have tried the Re-number list contextual menu item, but it doesn’t seem to do anything, and it certainly doesn’t fix this problem.

The absolute best thing would be integration with Omnioutliner, which is where I normally make my outlines. If I could simply cut and paste or export an Omnioutliner list in a format that Scrivener would automatically detect, that would make my life much easier.

Any help?