Paragraph settings increase list adjustment capabilities in Word, Writer

Most word processors treat different styles such as headings and titles as paragraphs. Lists are no different. Many of these applications make the individual points lists.

This means that, while most word processors have special settings for lists and their points, their settings for paragraphs also can be applied to lists and their points. Paragraph settings can be used to indent the left and right sides of a list item. There are also settings to add space above or below an item.

In LibreOffice Writer and Microsoft Word for Windows users can use their various paragraph settings to make adjustments to lists and their items. Both have Paragraph dialogs with similar settings. Their other settings is what sets the two word processors apart from each other.

This article will focus on the settings for indentation and spacing before and after paragraphs in Word and Writer.

Writer’s other indentation and paragraph spacing settings are in the Formatting toolbar and the Properties tab of the sidebar. Like the settings in the dialog, these icons will affect individual bullet and number points.

In Word, they are in the Paragraph section of the Home ribbon. These icons, unlike the Paragraph dialog settings, only affect the entire list. They do not make adjustments to individual items.

LibreOffice

Each of the paragraph settings work on individual list items, so the user can make changes that give an individual item a different indentation and spacing than the others at the same level.

This adds to the settings in the Bullets and Number dialog, which adjusts every item at a particular level. Paragraph settings allow you to make one of the items at a particular level different than the others.

After creating a list, click the desired point that you want to change so the cursor is flashing in it. Now you can use paragraph styles.

Paragraph settings can be found in the Paragraph dialog. They also can be found in the formatting toolbar and the Properties tab of the sidebar. The sidebar has the same settings as the dialog and toolbar.

First the items in the toolbar will be covered. Then the article will present the sidebar and dialog items that are not in the toolbar.

Formatting toolbar
There are a few tools on the right side of the toolbar for increasing or decreasing the line spacing. This offers quick access to four tools that can quickly change the indentation of a bullet or number point or add space before or after one. They make changes by preset amounts. The four are:

Paragraph icons in Formatting toolbar in LibreOffice Writer
These are the icons at the right side of the Formatting toolbar for editing paragraphs.
  • Increase Paragraph Spacing
  • Decrease Paragraph Spacing
  • Increase Indent
  • Decrease Indent

Increase and Decrease Paragraph Spacing
Increase and Decrease Spacing icons in Formatting toolbar in LibreOffice WriterThese two icons increase and decrease the space. They add  or reduce space above and below the bullet or number item at the same time. The above and below spacing will be equal.

Each click will add or reduce the space b .04 inches per click.

These icons are also in the Properties tab of the sidebar.

Increase and Decrease Indent
Increase and Decrease Indent icons in Formatting toolbar in LibreOffice WriterThese icons increase or decrease the bullet or number point by .49 inches per click in a heading or a traditional paragraph. However, for a bullet or number list item, clicking one of these icons will promote or demote the item a level.

This is like the Promote One Level and Demote One Level icons in the Bullets and Numbering toolbar.

These icons are also in the Properties tab of the sidebar.

Text boxes

Paragraph dialog in LibreOffice Writer
The Paragraph dialog has text boxes for indenting and putting space above and below paragraphs.

The other tools for indentation and adding spaces give you more control over how the bullet and number points are adjusted. They are text boxes with up and down arrow buttons, and they are in the Properties tab of the sidebar and the Indents & Spacing tab of the Paragraph dialog.

There are five text boxes that are divided into two sections: Indent and Spacing.

Indent

Sidebar in LibreOffice Writer
The Properties tab in the sidebar has the same paragraph settings as the Paragraph dialog and Formatting toolbar.

This section contains three text boxes. The section is in both the Properties sidebar and Indents & Spacing tab of the Paragraph dialog.

  • Before Text Indent
  • After Text Indent
  • First Line Indent

The First line text box affects the item the same way as Before Text Indent.

Before Text Indent
This text box moves the number or bullet point to the right or left. The text associated with the point will move with it if the drop-down menu for “Number followed by” is set to Space or Nothing. If it is set to Tab Stop, the following will happen:

  • If it is moved to the right, only the number or bullet point will be moved initially. Then the text on the first line will move.
    • However, if the text for the point has multiple lines, the subsequent lines will move with the number or bullet point.
  • If it is move to the left, the bullet or number will be moved. The text on the first line will remain in place. Subsequent lines will be moved with the number or bullet point.

You can type the desired indentation in the text box. Negative numbers can be entered. The up and down arrows can be used to adjust the indentation. Each click changes the number by .02 inches per click.

After Text Indent
This will indent the line to the left. Number or bullet points will not be moved. New lines will be created as the indentation is moved to the left. If the indentation is moved farther to the right, text is moved to the right. The number of lines may also be reduced.

You can type the desired indentation in the text box. Negative numbers can be entered. The up and down arrows can be used to adjust the indentation. Each click changes the number by .02 inches per click.

Paragraph spacing
This is a setting that LibreOffice has over Microsoft Word because space can be added above and below individual points. Microsoft Word only allows you to place space above a list or below a list. It will not allow you to put space above or below individual points.

For Writer, place you cursor in the bullet or number item that you want to add space above or below. There are several options for adding spacing.

Above and Below Paragraph Spacing
These text boxes are found in the Spacing section of the Properties tab in the sidebar and the Indents & Spacing tab of the Paragraph dialog.

After the cursor is placed in the desired point, open the Paragraph dialog to the Indents & Spacing, or click the Properties tab in the sidebar. The text boxes can be adjusted by either typing the desired inches in the box or clicking the up and down arrow buttons.

Clicking the up and down arrow buttons adjusts the space by .02 inches per click.

The Line Spacing drop-down menu in the toolbar, dialog, and sidebar affects the line height of an item. This can act like one of the spacing text boxes.

Microsoft Word for Windows
Like Writer, Word has a paragraph dialog that allows the user to indent an individual point to the left and to the right. It also allows you to add space above or below the selected numbered or bulleted item.

The Home ribbon also has several paragraph settings. They are different from the ones in the Paragraph dialog.

Home ribbon

Paragraph section in Home ribbon in Word 2016
The Paragraph section in the Home ribbon has several settings for adjusting paragraphs. It also gives you access to the Paragraph dialog.

The paragraph section of the ribbon has several quick access settings that add space or indent the item to preset adjustments. There are four settings covered below:

  • Decrease Indent
  • Increase Indent
  • Add Space Before Paragraph
  • Add Space After Paragraph

These are covered in the next two sections. In the Paragraph section, there is an item that allows you to access the Paragraph dialog.

Decrease and Increase Indent
Like in Writer, these icons will increase or decrease non-list paragraphs by .49 inches per click. However, it does not indent list items. Rather it moves them up or down a level.

If Item A and Item B are both at level one, you click Increase Indent when the cursor is in item Item B. It now becomes a sub-point of Item A.

Line and Paragraph Spacing
This drop-down menu has Add Space Before Paragraph and Add Space After Paragraph. It also gives you access to the Paragraph dialog.

Space Before and After
These items affect an entire list, not individual items in the list.

The Add Space Before Paragraph only works if the cursor is in the first item in the list. Add Space After Paragraph only works if the cursor is in the last item in the list.

Each one adds 12 pt before or after the list. This item does not allow you to increase the spacing more than 12 pt. Once you click it the item, it is replaced with Remove Space Before Paragraph or Remove Space After Paragraph.

To adjust individual bullet and number points, you need to access the Indents and Spacing tab in the Paragraph dialog. This can be accessed by clicking Line Spacing Options item in Line and Paragraph Spacing drop-down menu.

The dialog also can be opened by right-clicking on the list to view the context menu. Click the Paragraph item from the list.

Paragraph dialog

Paragraph dialog in Word 2016
The Paragraph dialog in Word 2016 paragraph settings do different things to paragraphs than those in the Home ribbon.

As mentioned earlier in the article, the dialog is similar to the Writer one. It has items to indent and add space to individual list items.

The dialog is accessed through the Line and Paragraph Spacing icon in the Paragraph section. To launch it do the following:

  1. Click the Line and Paragraph Spacing icon to reveal the drop-down menu.
  2. Click the Line Spacing Options item.

It also can be accessed through the context menu that appears when you right-click on a list item.

  1. Right click on the item you want to adjust.
  2. Click the Paragraph item in the menu that appears.

The dialog has an Indentation section and Spacing section. The text boxes in the Indentation section are measured in inches. The boxes in the paragraph section are in points.

Indentation
This section has Left and Right text boxes and a drop-down menu for the first line.

The Left text box will indent the bullet or number and its associated text to the right at the measurement you enter in the text box. You can type the desired measurement in the box, or click the up and down arrow buttons. Each click will adjust the indentation by .1 inches.

The Right text box indents the text in the line to the left. Text may be moved to a new line. It is adjusted the same way as the Left text box.

The Special drop-down has three options: Hanging, First line, and None. Hanging indents the first line farther than the subsequent lines. First line indents the subsequent lines farther than the first line. None makes the farther left characters of subsequent lines even with the number or bullet.

There is a By text box associated with the Special drop-down menu. Like the right and left text boxes, type the amount of indentation. Clicking the up and down arrow buttons changes the measurement by .1 inches per click.

Spacing
This section has Before and After text boxes that add space before or after a selected point in a list. The measurement is in points.

  • Type the measurement in one of the text boxes.
  • Or click the up and down arrow buttons. Each click changes the measurement by 6 pt per click.

There is also a drop-down menu that changes the height of a line. The associated At text box allows you to set measurements for several of the choices in the text box.

Line height is not covered in this article.

Conclusion
Word and Writer have the basically the same settings for adjusting the indentation and spacing of a list item.

The Decrease and Increase Spacing icons that are in Writer’s Formatting toolbar and sidebar are the key advantage because they affect individual items in a list. The user also can click them multiple times.

Word can only adjust individual items through the Paragraph dialog. This does not allow for the user to see the changes until the OK button in the dialog is clicked. Writer’s dialog works the same way, but the same settings are in the sidebar. This allows item adjustments to be seen as they are made.

The Left and Right indentation text boxes are Word’s advantage because the are an addition to the settings in the Multilevel list dialog. They move the number or bullet and its text as one.

In Writer, the number or bullet is moved, followed by its associated text. It affects only one list item, rather than every item at a particular level. It, however, does not have a setting that moves a number or a bullet and its associated text as a unit, like Word does.

These strengths and weaknesses make another argument for using both applications to edit a document. Writer can be used to create space above or below a list item. Word can be used to indent an item.

LibreOffice’s developers have done a good job at creating a competitive office suite to the world’s most popular one.

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