Latex List Structures


{\normalsize \LaTeX} lists can be created using several different list-making environments. These may be nested up to four deep. Each item in the list, regardless of type, is declared with the \item command.

Unordered Lists

List1Bullet lists are unordered (unnumbered) lists produced by the itemize  environment.  The default bullet style for level 1 is a filled circle.  For example:

Change Latex Lists: Bullet Styles

The default label scheme for a multi-layered itemized list is:

  • Level 1:     \textbullet (•),
  • Level 2:     \textendash (–) ,
  • Level 3:     \textasteriskcentered (*)
  • Level 4:     \textperiodcentered (·)

To redefine the label use one of the next commands, depending on the level of list mark you intend to change:

  • Level1:     labelitemi
  • Level2:     labelitemii
  • Level3:     labelitemiii
  • level4:      labelitemiv


Bullet label schemes can be changed on a go forward basis by redefining the commands that typeset them.  Redefinition is achieved using \renewcommand{} for a specific list levels. For example, the following code changes Level 1 to a black square and Level 2 to a white square:

List1cThe symbols used here belong to the amssymb package, which must be added to the preamble with \usepackage{amssymb}. You can also change the item label for a specific row.  For example:

Ordered Lists

List2Ordered list have the same syntax inside the enumerate environment.  The enumerate labels consists of sequential numbers, and each numbered list starts at 1 with every call to the enumerate environment:\begin{enumerate}

Descriptive Lists

List3The description environment is slightly different. The item label can be specified by passing it as an optional argument. Descriptive lists are often used to make a glossary:

List4It is also possible to generate a description list where the list label and the list text begin on different lines. This cannot be done easily using standard line breaks, such as \\.  

The trick is to use \hfill, as shown below:

Nested Lists

List5In {\normalsize \LaTeX}, you can create nested lists by inserting a list inside another. The above list types may be combined, either mixed or of one type. Nesting beyond 4 levels requires use of the easylist package.  

The example at right is created using the following code:

The default numbering scheme is:

  • Level 1:    Arabic number (1, 2, 3, …) which uses \arabic,
  • Level 2:    Lowercase letter (a, b, c, …), which uses \alph,
  • Level 3:    Lowercase Roman numeral (i, ii, iii, …) which uses \roman,
  • Level 4:    Uppercase letter (A, B, C, …) which uses \Alph.

It is also possible to change the number formats as follows:

In this case, level 2 labels are changed to Roman (I, II, III, …).  For other levels, substitute the following for theenumii.  The command must be placed in the preamble to change the labels globally or right before \begin{enumerate} to change labels only in this list:

  • Level1:     \theenumi
  • Level2:     \theenumii
  • Level3:     \theenumiii
  • Level4:     \theenumiv

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