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Adobe InDesign CS5.5 CS6: Styling Bullet and Number Lists

In this tutorial we will show you how to create and apply your own bullet styles in an InDesign CS5.5 or CS6 document. The same principles apply to CS5 as well. First we are going to create our custom bullet style then we will apply it to a short list. We will then create a similar style for our numbered lists. They are created and used in exactly the same manner. For those wishing to do multi level lists as well I have just added another tutorial. The first thing we need to do is create a new paragraph style. So click on Paragraph Styles then on Create New Style. A new style, usually Paragraph Style 1 will now appear in the list. Double click on it to get the New Paragraph Style dialog box. In the dialog box that comes up give our style a name. I am simply going to call mine “bullet list”. We simply type it in the style name box. This is the name that will replace the Paragraph Style 1 that is its current name in the Paragraph Style list when we save our style. (As shown by the arrow) Click on Basic Character Formats and select the font and font sizes we want for the text within our bullet lists. None of this affect the bullets themselves just the text inside them. Now as we are only interested in modifying the bullet list character we are going to change to the Bullets and Numbering tab. We then Change our List Type to Bullets and click on the drop down menu for Character Style. Select New Character Style from the drop down menu. We now have new window open our new Character Style. Let’s give it a name, I will just call mine “Bullet”. Now click on Basic Character Formats and select the font family we want to use for our bullet. This is ONLY for our bullet. The rest of our text we follow another character style. So our bullets do not have to be front the same font. This is good news for us because our bullet characters have to be found somewhere within the characters in our font. For my example I have chosen Arial because it has the type of arrow I wish to use. Try using it for now and if you wish you can explore other characters that are available later. I set my font size to 14pt as the rest of my text is that size. We now change to the Character Colour tab and select what colour we want our bullets to be. Remember this will not affect the colour of our text only the bullets. I have selected my red and we now hit OK to return to the Paragraph Styles box still in the background. Now click the ADD button. And find the character from our font family we wish to use and then click OK. We now need to click on the bullet character we wish to use to make sure it is selected. Once it is selected we can then hit OK. Now all we have to do is highlight the text we want as a bulleted list and then select our paragraph style. We now have our finished style. To do numbered list simply create a New Paragraph Style based on our previous style and instead of selecting bullets in the Bullets tab select numbering. This will create a separate style for numbered lists. It can be editing in all the same ways as our previous style. Hope you found this tutorial helpful and hope to see you again soon.

For those wishing to do multi level lists as well I have just added another tutorial.

5 Responses to Adobe InDesign CS5.5 CS6: Styling Bullet and Number Lists

  • aLL i WANT TO DO IS HIGHLIGHT A PARAGRAPH OF BULLETTED TEXT AND CHANGE THE BULLET COLOR. iT USED TO BE SO EASY IN EARLIER VERSIONS—i’VE SPEND MOST OF THIS AFTERNOON TRYING TO DO THIS AND AM AT A COMPLETE LOSS. i’VE BEEN WORKING WITH iNDESIGN FOR MANY YEARS, SO I’M NOT A MORON. PLEASE HELP!

    • why not set up a charcter style for the for the bullet, you can then choose what character style you want the bullet to be and viola you have colored bullets, I am sure there may be an easier way but it works…

  • How do I make a multi-level bulleted list? In other programs, I’ve used a solid dot for the main items and an empty dot for the next level, etc. I also prefer to indent the next level with hanging indent for multi-line entries. Could you please explain how to do this as well?
    thanks!

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