Creating Multi-Level Lists in Adobe InDesign

Multi-level lists can be a useful tool in InDesign for organizing content in your document in a hierarchical way. To illustrate this, let’s create a list of fruits with various varieties. We’ll start with a first-level list (numbered) for the fruits, and then in Step 2 add in a second-level list (lettered) for the different varieties. 

Step 1: Creating a Numbered List

Let’s begin with our first-level list. We are listing “apples,” “oranges,” and “lemons.”

  1. First, launch Adobe InDesign and open your document. If you don’t have one yet, create a new one by navigating to File > New > Document.
  2. Select the Type Tool from the toolbar (or press T on your keyboard) and either click and drag on the page to create a new text frame or click into an existing text frame where you would like to insert your list.
  3. Type in your first-level list items: “apples,” “oranges,” and “lemons,” each on a new paragraph. Make sure you use a paragraph return (Enter) and not simply a line break (Shift + Enter) between each item.
  4. Now, to convert this into a numbered list, select the lines of text then navigate to the control panel at the top of your screen, and click the Bullets and Numbering option (marked A in Figure 1). You might need to switch from character to paragraph formatting using the icon (marked B in Figure 1). Your first-level list is now created. By default, it uses the 1, 2, 3 numeric style.

Lists in InDesign

Figure 1.1

Step 2: Creating a Lettered Sub-List

Next, we’re going to create a sub-list under “apples” to list different varieties as “red,” “green,” and “yellow” using the lettered style (a, b, c).

  1. Press Enter after “apples” and type “red,” “green,” and “yellow,” each on a new line.
  2. Highlight these three lines, and follow the steps to turn it into a list (just like you did before).
  3. This time, however, we’ll change the format to alphabetical. To do this, hold down the Alt / Option key and click on the Lists icon (marked A in Figure 1.1) to bring up the Bullets and Numbering dialog box. In here change the Format option to lowercase alphabet by selecting this from the drop down (marked A in Figure 1.2).
  4. I am also going to increase the indent for this second level list by adjusting the setting for left indent (marked B in Figure 1.2) .
  5. Finally I also need to ensure the rest of the list numbering continues in the right order, and to do this will set the level to 2 (marked C in Figure 1.2).

Second level list

Figure 1.2

Now, you should have a primary list of fruits, and a secondary list under “apples” showing their different varieties.

We use cookies to improve your browsing experience on our website and to understand where our visitors are coming from. By clicking ‘Accept cookies’, you consent to our use of cookies.