Changing the Dimensions of a List in LaTeX

Latex provides a large number of commands for the creation of structured documents. The filosophy of latex is that, once the user determines the content, the formatting engine should be responsible for the real appearence of the resulting page.

The goal of this philosophy is to provide freedom for writers, so they don't need to be concerned about formatting choices. This idea is called what-you-see-is-what-you-mean, in contrast to the WYSIWYG strategy that is used in most products in the market, including of course Microsoft Word.

Fixed Formatting

However, there are situations that even in latex the user may need to provide his or her own formatting. These situations may appear from time to time when creating specific documents, such as a dissertation or thesis.

In these cases, the advantage of latex is that it provides a very strict control on how the page is defined and, using the underlying TeX capabilities, one can create very complex document.

In this article we will show, for example, how one can format lists so that they can have non-standard appearence. This way, an author can adapt the appearence of a list to the specific context in which it is needed.

Measurements and Spaces

The way latex allows lists to be customized is through a set of measurement commands. From the standard latex documentation, we have the following set of of dimension paramenters:

To use one of these commands, the easiest thing to do is to use a command such as \setlength to determine the length for each of these parameters. For example:


will change to one centimeter the amount of identation for each item of a list.

Tags: customization, lists, indentation, latex
Article created on 2009-03-24 23:05:43

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