Remove & edit tabs in lists?

When I apply a list to left-justified text, the bullets/numbers are indented with each line having a tab at the start of the line. How can I edit this? In Scrivener 2, I could have left justified bullets but now the lists are shifted over to the right that first tab stop. If I delete the tab stop the number or bullet disappears along with the list formatting.

Is there a way to set/edit the tabs and indents in the preset lists and save those changes as either the preset or a new custom style/list?

I don’t think anything has changed with how lists are formatted in many years, perhaps even since they were introduced in 10.4. For as long as I can recall anyway, the pattern has been Tab + Enumerator + Tab (it has always been a bane to plain-text users, particularly Markdown, where prefixing a line with a tab indicates a code block not a list). I just ran a quick test, using the same font and paragraph settings, and got an identical layout in both versions. But that’s no big surprise since Scrivener itself doesn’t generate list formatting, that’s something the Mac itself does.

I don’t know of any way to change the fundamental format, as far as I know the arrangement of tabs is crucial to how it recognises lists. You can of course move the tab stops around however.


Thanks so much for response. I opened older computer and played with lists in Scrivener 2 and you are correct. I don’t know why I hadn’t noticed that first tab in lists before. Now I can’t stop seeing it.

In Scrivener 2 I was able to easily slide the tab marks and get the list to align left at 0. I then saved this as a preset "List aligned left."Applying that preset I am able to have completely left justified lists.

The behavior seems different in Scrivener 3. No matter how many times I try grabbing the tab marks or entering them directly in the tab/indent paragraph format box, I can’t replicate the behavior. Can you see something I might be doing wrong?

Also, is there a way to set the default for new documents to a preset. I have a “standard manuscript” preset that I would like to have all documents open in. I know that you can set the default formatting–but it is not using the preset by name/designation, just the same formatting that I have assigned. Does that description make sense?

Thanks again.

Ah, yeah styles don’t mix well with lists I’m afraid. Scrivener 2 didn’t have styles, it had formatting presets, which were essentially just a blob of formatting that would be applied to whatever you select and then that was it. Styles are a lot more complicated in that you can later have it go back and change the formatting for all text tagged with that style—and of course as well you can see which style text is tagged with in the Format Bar. The most expedient way in which to add styles to a text engine that doesn’t understand what they are was to do that on top of the Mac, and like I say, unfortunately it messes with the internal list structure in such a way that the list formatting can get damaged.

It’s up to you, but personally I wouldn’t try to force list formatting too much. Just let it be and bulk format it later in the post-compile phase. Think of it more like a rough designation of intention rather than The Way it Should Print, if that makes sense. YMMV of course—I use MultiMarkdown to write so I’m already way over in that “text doesn’t look anything like how it prints” world.

As for setting a default, no there isn’t a way of doing that. You might want to look over §15.6.1, Think Different, pg. 401 in the user manual where the type of style system Scrivener is designed around is described. It is not the sort where one is urged to tag each and every shred of text on the screen. Rather it is one that is meant to only be used for cases of text that stand out from body text in some meaningful way, that should probably be treated specially for that when compiled. There are other uses as well of course, some purely with the realms of metadata, or within text files that don’t even use formatting—but the same basic idea holds true for them all.

Thanks. I suspect I need to update my old school thinking in that I format all my text as a standard manuscript–essentially not making the distinction between on screen appearance and compile. Still stuck in word processor habits/mentality.

Is learning MultiMarkdown worth learning for most writers–and is it the best way to fully utilize Scrivener?

Ha, maybe so. Though in a way you could say it’s “middle school”. If you go back far enough word processing had nothing to do with formatting. WordPerfect for DOS didn’t show you fonts, colours, simulated sheets of paper or tab stops. Somewhere along the way word processing got all mixed up in desktop publishing—and it’s an undeniably popular model, but when you look at it that way, Scrivener kind of goes back to an older model: one where you put “instructions” through a machine and have it generate a document; where the font you type with may have nothing to do with anything other than the fact that you like it. It however does so in a way that is friendlier than say, Troff or TeX! So maybe it’s neo old school. :wink:

I’d say it’s more a matter of taste than anything. Those that prefer it like how it forces you to focus on content alone. There is not even the option to spend time with tab stops on lists because a numbered list is simply “1.” typed into the start of the line, or an asterisk for a bullet. There are no distractions in that sense. (You can use Scrivener’s lists too, but purely as text generators, so you don’t have to type in the numbers by hand, but no formatting.)

Those that don’t care for it tend to dislike how such a minimalist writing method means putting more effort into the export side of formatting. Lists remain a good example I think—you just have two types, bullets and numbers, and you can’t do anything with them, that is all you have. So if you want some lists that have checkmarks (like “What we’ve learned so far…” type recaps), and some lists that use squares, and so on, it means more formatting after you’re done writing. Of course that is what those that prefer it like about it—it delegates that kind of thinking to a different phase of the project, makes it so you can’t easily bother with that kind of stuff when you’re supposed to be writing. But for those that have spent years interleaving these two tasks into one creative process, it can be jarring and difficult to really truly put the design pen down and see the text as content rather than form in any sense of the word.

The other downside is that for some things it can be a little more technical—but I’d say it’s not so bad as it used to be. Especially with a tool like Scrivener, where if you install the Pandoc document conversion tool you can actually just compile a regular old .docx file that is going to be perfectly acceptable to start formatting with very little technical know-how required.

Geeks tend to like these tools because you can go crazy with them if that’s what you need. But you don’t have to—much like Scrivener I’d say for that matter. You can just compile “Original” (or “Default” now) and do all your formatting and layout in Word and only learn the bare minimum basics of what “compile” means. You can also go all out with the compiler, even learning how to program it if that’s your thing. Both systems are very deep, and for that they can be rewarding for those that need it, but neither needs to be intimidating for that. You can get a simple docx with Scrivener, you can get a simple docx with Markdown. If you’re happy doing the rest in a word processor—then either approach is fine, and we’re back to the point I started out with: do you like being forced to focus on content, or do you like being able to make bullets look just right, and does not having them just right make it difficult to write? Nothing wrong or better with either—it’s just a matter of taste.

Best way to utilise Scrivener? Whew, probably no way to really answer that in a general fashion. If the writing method itself suits you, then Scrivener will very likely rise to that method—I think that’s a better way of putting it. It has the breadth to make many different approaches excellent.

You should be a writer! :wink:

Thank you–sorry to have pushed you to a major dissertation–but it was really interesting!