Join David Blatner for an in-depth discussion in this video Add automatic bullets and numbers, part of InDesign CC 2018 Essential Training.
- [Instructor] You use a computer so that it will do all the boring, mundane work for you, right? So, the next time you need to add a bunch of bullets or numbers in front of a list of paragraphs, don't type them manually. It's far more efficient to let InDesign add them for you. Now, I have my Long Documents file open, and I'm going to jump to page 14 by choosing it from this little pop-up menu, down in the lower left corner of the window. I'll just choose 14 and it jumps right to this page, where I have a list. I'll click on this text frame and just zoom in a little bit by pressing Command + or Control + on Windows.
Now, it doesn't look like a list yet, but we'll fix that. I'm going to double-click on this to switch to the type tool, and then I'm going to select some of this text. Now, up in the Control Panel, I want to make sure that I'm looking at the paragraph formatting controls, which I am. I can see that because that little paragraph symbol is highlighted on the left side. Now, to add automatic bullets, all I need to do is click this little bullet button. That's it. They all get bullets automatically. And the bullets are all set up with what's called a hanging indent.
You see how the bullets hang out here and the text flows indented to the right of it? So, now the main problem that I see is that that bullet is hanging really far away from the text. And, also, they're really small and they're the dumb looking round bullets. Everybody uses round bullets. I want something more interesting. So, to change my bullets, I need to go to the Bullets dialog box. And to get there, I'm going to hold down the Option key on the Mac or Alt on Windows, and then click that same button. Up comes the Bullets and Numbering dialog box.
And the list type is set to Bullets. Now, down here, you can see a number of bullet characters that we could use. The regular old round one, or an asterisk, or this diamond. I'm not sure who would use those. The one that I kind of like is this double-angled bracket. So, I'll select that. Now, there's another bullet character here. This thing that looks like an A with some accents. Now, I have no idea what this thing is called, but I did finally figure out why it shows up for some people and not for others. If you're curious, you can go to my website, which is indesignsecrets.com.
And then you can use the search field to look for "Weird bullet character." It's kind of an interesting story. Anyway, if you see it, you can just ignore it. Now, see these blank boxes over here? These are for you to make your own custom bullets. To do that, you come over here and click the Add button. Now, bullets are always characters from within a font. So, you need to tell InDesign what font you want to pull the character from. In this case, I'm going to use a font that has a lot of interesting ornaments in it, called Minion Pro.
And Minion Pro ships with InDesign, so everybody should have it. I'll just type Min in here and it guesses I want Minion Pro. Then, I'll set the font style to Regular. Now, up here I see all the characters from the Minion Pro font. So, all I need to do is scroll down here and look for a character that looks interesting for the bullet. There's one. The triangle. I'll select that. Now, I simply click the OK button and you'll see that InDesign adds it to our list. Now, the last thing I need to do is change those indents.
I'm going to change this first line indent from minus quarter inch to say minus one pica. And obviously you can use millimeters or any other measurement system you want. Now, I'll press the Tab key to make it take effect. And that looks pretty good, so I'll click the OK button. Now, I'll click over here to deselect all that text, and we can see the bullets look pretty good. You see, it wasn't so hard to get cool looking bullets after all. But now, how about automatic numbers? Well, up here, just below the bullets button, there's a numbering button.
So, if I select my paragraphs again, and then click the automatic numbering button, now all those bullets turn into numbers. If you're into web design, you'll probably call these ordered lists, where bullets are called unordered lists. Now, if it's a very simple list, like this, then I'm done. That's all I need to do. And the good news is, that this list will update automatically. So, for example, if I click at the end of this paragraph, and then just press the Return key, it automatically updates the numbers. I'll just type some gibberish in here.
So, now let's say we don't want this paragraph to be numbered. Well, all I have to do is come up here and turn off that button in the Control Panel. Now that paragraph is not being numbered. But if I want this paragraph, number three down here, to start over at number one again, all I have to do is place my cursor in that paragraph and then right-click and then choose Restart Numbering from the context menu. There you go. Now it starts with number one. Okay, now if you need to do anything more complex than what I just showed you, you need to visit the Numbering dialog box.
So, I'm going to press Command Z or Control Z a few times, to go back to the way my list was before I did all these changes. Now, I'll select this list again, hold down the Option or Alt key and then click that button. This time, when the Bullets and Numbering dialog box appears, my list type is set to Numbers. Now, a lot of the features in here are self-explanatory. For example, the way that the mode pop-up menu lets you continue from a previous number or start at any specific number. Or, if you want to change the formatting of the numbers, you can choose a character style out of this pop-up menu here.
I'll talk about character styles and how to make your own in the next chapter. Now, here's a question. What if I want to make a sublist? For example, I'd like this list to be one, two, and then 2A, 2B, and then so on. How would I do that? Well, to make a sublist, I'll first click Cancel and then just select the paragraphs that I want to affect. Now, I'm going to go back to that dialog box and I'm going to change the level from one to two. So now, it's a second level list, a sublist.
Next, I'll change the format of this list. Currently, it's using regular numerals. But I could change this to all kinds of things, including Roman numerals. In this case, I'm going to choose letters. Next, I'm going to increase the left indent here to something larger, say half an inch. Then I'll press the Tab key and you can see back here, because the preview checkbox is turned on, all of those paragraphs were indented. Okay, so now we have A, B, C, but I'm pretty sure that earlier I said I wanted them to be 2A, 2B and so on.
How would we do that? Well, the trick is to adjust the number field up here. And right now, the number field has some pretty strange codes in it. Here's what they mean. The first code is carat #, and that combination means the current number, whatever number you're on right now. Then it's followed by a period, or a dot, and then it's followed by a Tab. That's what carat T is, a Tab. So, if I want this to say 2A or 2B, then I'm going to have to figure out what kind of code to type here, right at the beginning of the field.
But I'm not sure what the code is. So, I'm going to use this little fly-out menu over here on the right. See this little triangle? I click that and then look inside the submenu called Insert Number Placeholder. Now, I know that this sublist, the one that I'm on right now, is Level 2, right? I already set up that level. So, in this submenu, I want to choose Level 1. When I do that, it types the code for me, carat 1. And now we can see that it updated, 1a, 1b, 1c.
Now, with that extra character, I see that the indents got a little messed up. But I can fix that. All I need to do is increase the left indent just a little bit and then decrease the first line indent a little bit. To change those numbers, I'm simply pressing the up or down arrow keys on my keyboard. There you go. I'll click OK and you can see we have a first level list, and a second level list. Now, this says 1a instead of 2a, because it's underneath Level 1. But, of course, the great thing about numbers, is that they'll automatically update.
So, if I click at the end of number one, and just press Return or Enter, now I'll type some gibberish, you'll see that all the numbering updated. Letting your computer update your bullets and numbering is the smart way to use InDesign, so that you can save your time for more important design decisions.
- Creating a new layout
- Inserting pages
- Adding text
- Inserting graphics
- Applying color and transparency
- Drawing and editing frames and paths
- Formatting objects
- Formatting text
- Creating styles for uniform formatting
- Building tables
- Adding links and interactivity
- Printing and exporting InDesign documents