Weird bullet point behaviour?


I use Scrivener to take notes for University and it’s been a godsend. However sometimes the formatting goes a little nuts. I use script-writing mode so that I can assign hotkeys to change the font to allow for headings.

Usually in order to make dot points I just select text like so and then hit a hot key to assign bullet points. It works most of the time but every now and again Scrivener goes all weird and does this.

No amount of editing at this point will make the dot points sit properly (like the text on the bottom of my first screenshot)

What is going on? I assume it has something to do with the formatting but I don’t know how to fix it.

Also, is there a better way to do different ‘styles’ and have them hot-key assignable that’s not using script-writing mode?


Try popping open the ruler and put the cursor in one of the list items. This looks to me like how the text engine handles a tab character that has no tab stop. If you for instance only have one tab stop assigned to the ruler and add a second tab, it will jump down to the next line. When you use the list tool it sets up unique tab stops to format the list automatically—but of course it is possible to change the ruler later and potentially mess them up.

That’s what Formatting Presets are for, but you can’t use those for list styles unfortunately. There is a limitation in what they can handle. Assigning a hotkey to the “•” character or what have you is the best course to take.

I don’t actually use the ruler at all and had to open it in order to see what was going on.

There appears to be no link between how the ruler looks when problematic text is selected compared to when ‘non-problematic’ text is selected. But when I try to make problematic text a list it goes crazy as per the problem.

I’ve tried to work out the pattern to this but it seems to just occur randomly. I basically have to delete the section and start again to solve it.

The strange thing is that it seems to happen randomly within a single document. So I’ll have a heading, then some text I turn into dot points, another heading, then some text I’ll turn into dot points, then another heading, but this time when I try to turn the text into dot points it flips out on me.

When I use script-writing mode I don’t use it to make lists, but rather format the text size, underlining and bold. Is there a better way of doing that? I can’t see how to edit formatting presets or assign hot keys to them.

Sorry, I misread what you said about adding a hotkey for lists and
though you were doing it the OS X way.You can customise shortcuts in OS
X’s Keyboard preference pane. Just click on the “Keyboard Shortcuts” tab
in that pane, and then “Application Shortcuts” in the sidebar. For
example (to add a shortcut to the “Flag (Blue)” custom icon) follow
these steps:

  1. Click the + button below the right list
  2. Select Scrivener in the “Application” drop-down
  3. Type in “Flag (Blue)” for the menu title. This part is important, the name of the menu must be typed in completely and precisely, including capital letters, and the three dots at the end if applicable.
  4. Click into the keyboard shortcut field, and then press the keys you wish to use for this shortcut. If you accidentally press the wrong keys, you can try again by clicking back in this field and press the right combination.
  5. Click the “Add” button.

So for example, to add a hotkey to the simple bullet list item, you would look at the Format/Lists/ sub-menu and see that the item name for that is merely “•”. Type that into the system preferences pane, and give it a shortcut. Switch back to Scrivener and it should be assigned.

I wouldn’t recommend trying to use the scriptwriting feature to handle lists because it sets up its own tab stops and the way in which it does so is not conducive to how OS X handles lists—plus you won’t be using the actual list environment, which allows you to keep lists numbered automatically and insert new bullets/numbers as you go.

I’m not sure why it is only happening sporadically like you say, but there are much better/easier ways to handle lists than using scriptwriting settings; might as well use them.

You can read up on how to use formatting presets in §14.4.3 (pg. 180) of the user manual. Like I say, you won’t be able to use those for lists, but that’s okay because you can directly bind a shortcut to list types anyway. You might find this useful for your headings and such, though.

Thanks for that, but I think we’re talking across one another.

I don’t use the script-writing feature to make lists per se, but rather use it to change font sizes.

I already have a hot key assigned to make a list as per your instructions.

I recently changed to using formatting presets. Hopefully that will clear things up and stop this problem from occurring.

Just from a UI point of view the system of setting up formatting presets and assigning hot-keys is very laborious. Having to go through and ‘learn’ presets from existing text is a handy feature but shouldn’t be the only way, there should be a comprehensive dialog system like there is with script-writing (where you can set up multiple presets from the same place and see how they look). Further, assigning hot-keys via the MacOS preferences pane is again a little bit too far for most users.

I realise Scrivener is a product aimed at a certain market who are likely fairly computer literate but the process just isn’t user friendly as it currently stands. I assume there are technical limitations responsible for the current system but I thought you’d be interested that, coming from someone who is a massive nerd, the system sucks.

Overall though Scrivener is fantastic. Stoked to have found it.

One annoying limitation of using formatting presets to set headings etc is that you don’t have the [enter] and [tab] options available in script-writing mode which means you have to constantly be changing back and forth.

In script-writing mode I could make a heading and then hit enter to go to a new line, and the text on the new line would be in another script-writing preset (for normal sized text).

If I use formatting presets for the same function I have to manually change.