OpenOffice Writer numbering is powerful but it lacks at least one very important feature. Well, two. Here's the first.
To restart the list at 1, you have to do it manually. You have to click on something like this, click on the first item:
to make it look like this.
NOTE However that this restart attribute is NOT available when you create a style. You can't create a style that restarts at 1. So it's a manual-only attribute. This can be annoying. Especially since importing new versions of the style you're using can wipe out the restart setting.
The numbers are inserted automatically so you can't click between the number and the text to insert a tab, or just format the number directly, or whatever. You can do this all through the numbering setup window, so it's not a huge issue, but sometimes it's nice to just grab hold of something and format it.
Here's what you might want to do if these are problems for you and you're up for something completely different.
I really like it. It's powerful and reliable.
The solution comes from my colleague Jean Weber, at www.jeanweber.com. She has an excellent book on Writer, including high-end complex issues like this.
Here’s the link to the OOo doc, to which she contributed. http://documentation.openoffice.org/manuals/oooauthors2/
Here’s a link to the file you’re going to be using to solve this problem. http://documentation.openoffice.org/manuals/oooauthors2/0214WG-WorkingWithFields.pdf
What you do is, you create a numbering series of your own that has nothing to do with the normal numbering.
I’ll leave the particular details to Jean’s guide; go to the section called Defining your own numbering sequences. Here’s what you need to accomplish.
1. Create a single number range for every level. For instance, if your top level is regular Arabic, your second level is Alphabetic, and your third level is lower Roman, then create a single number range for each of those called Arabic, Alpha, and Roman (or one two and three, or Larry Moe and Curly, or whatever). Choose Insert > Fields > Other, click the Variables tab, choose Number Range on the left, and the rest is pretty clear. Jean's guide provides lots of nice detail for this.
2. Create paragraph styles with the indenting you want, one style for each level. The paragraph styles are what will take care of the indenting. You also need to set up the correct tabs since you’ll press Tab between the number range and the text.
Here are examples for levels 1, 2, and 3. In this formatting example there’s an indent of .3 inches from the left margin of the document for all text. Also the distance from the number to the text is .3 inches.
Level 1 (plus set a .3 tab in the Tabs tab)
Level 2 (plus set a .3 tab in the Tabs tab)
Level 3 (plus set a .3 tab in the Tabs tab)
3. Start inserting the numbers, just anywhere in the document. You're going to insert them, then make shortcuts so that you can insert them more easily.
Choose Insert > Fields > Other, select your top level variable such as Arabic, specify 1 in the Value field, and click Insert.
Now create your ArabicContinued field. Press Return or just make a space or two. Still in the Fields window, delete the 1 from the Value field, and click Insert to insert another field of the same range. It’ll show up in the document as 2. Click Insert again if you want to prove it's working; it'll show up as 3.
DO NOT set up different variables here for the regular and the restart. They need to have the same name.
Do the same for the first item and the next item at all the levels you’re using.
4. Apply the appropriate paragraph styles to each number range you're using. If you created a paragraph style called TopLevelNumbering, apply it to all the Arabic fields (or whatever you're using at the top level). Also press Tab to insert a tab after each number.
5. If you have a lot more work to do, you want all this inserting stuff to be easier so make AutoTexts.
5.a. Select the first top-level numbering item, the Arabic one that equals 1 and the tab. (Not crucial, but as long as you're saving yourself some work, you can make the tab show up automatically, too.) Be sure the appropriate style is applied so that you can bundle the number and the correct style into one convenient autotext.
5.b. Choose Edit > AutoText. Type a name like ArabicRestart, make the shortcut something obvious like AR for ArabicRestart. Click and hold down on the Autotext button and choose New.
5.c. Repeat the steps for the next number at that level, the one that doesn’t have 1 as the value. So select the field that shows 2 in your document, choose Edit > AutoText, and call this one just Arabic or ArabicContinued. Make the shortcut something like A or AC.
5.d. Repeat those steps for every level.
6. Now just keep on formatting or typing your list by inserting numbers. Type AR F3 (the shortcut plus the key that says "insert the autotext with that shortcut" to insert a numeral 1 plus a tab. Type AC F3 to insert a sequential continuous number.
Note on inserting: You can't have the cursor immediately next to any existing text or the AutoText tool will get confused about what you want to do. There has to be at least a space between the cursor and any other text.
Alternately, if your list already exists, copy and paste the appropriate restart and continuous number variables to the appropriate spots, rather than using the shortcut keys.
Is it wildly different from normal numbering? Yes. Is it complicated to set up? No more than any other complex numbering.
Does it offer much more reliability and control than other numbering in OpenOffice Writer, for complex lists? Yes, yes, oh god, yes.