Pages 2: Fundamental problem with numbered lists and copying/pasting text

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Pages
April 26th, 2006 • 10:20 am

There is something very wrong with the way Pages copies number list formatting along with text when you copy text from within a numbered list item.

Consider the following situation:

Numbered list

This is a numbered list formatted using Pages’s default list style called “Numbered List.” After applying the style, I just changed the numbering scheme from numbers to letters. But the problem I am describing here applies regardless of the formatting options selected.

As you can see, the first list item already contains some text (which is selected), while the second list item is still empty. (I’ve just pressed Return after typing out the first list item, and then gone back to the first list item and selected its text.)

If I then press command-C to copy the text of the first list item, and then move the cursor back to the beginning of the second list item, and press command-V to paste the copied text, here’s what I get:

Numbered list with pasted text

Pages not only pasted the text, but also changed the numbering of the item to match the first list item!

This makes no sense. It’s quite clear in the first screen shot that, when I selected the text of the first list item, I only selected the text. I didn’t select the entire paragraph including the paragraph mark at the end! (In Pages, when you select an entire paragraph including the paragraph mark, the blue paragraph mark symbol automatically becomes visible, even if you don’t have the option to show invisible characters checked.)

I only selected the text of the first line item, and therefore when I paste it elsewhere it shouldn’t have its numbered list formatting attached to it and pasted in lieu of the existing numbered list formatting of the destination.

This is quite inconvenient, because I frequently composed numbered lists in which many items are similar with only a few variations. It’s much more convenient to cut and paste the text then to type it out for each and every item. Yet because of this weird behaviour in Pages, that’s what I am forced to do. (An alternative would be to compose the list first and then apply the “Numbered List” style to it, but it’s rather counter-intuitive.)

Similarly, if you copy some text in a list item and then paste it in a location that has no list formatting at all, Pages automatically applies the list formatting of the copied text to the pasted text as well, even if what you selected and copied was only a portion of the text of a list item.

This is fundamentally wrong, because a list style is something that applies to entire paragraphs, and it shouldn’t be included when only a portion of the paragraph is selected and copied.

For the record, the problem extends to regular paragraph styles as well. If you have a paragraph formatted using a paragraph style, and you select and copy a portion of that paragraph, when you paste the copied text elsewhere, the entire paragraph of the location where you pasted the text takes on the paragraph style of the original paragraph where the text comes from.

It could probably be argued that it makes some sense for paragraph styles, because paragraph styles do include character-level formatting options. But I am afraid it makes very little sense for list styles, and is downright annoying in that instance. So it looks like a pretty poor design choice on Apple’s part.

2 Responses to “Pages 2: Fundamental problem with numbered lists and copying/pasting text”

  1. danridley says:

    I was going to say fixed in 3.0 for this one too, except I can’t reproduce it in 2.0.2 either. Maybe it got fixed in one of the ’06 point releases?

  2. Pierre Igot says:

    It’s still there in Pages 2.0.2, but only when the numbered list is at the very bottom of the document, i.e. there’s nothing after the line starting with “b).” Pages handles this situation in rather weird ways. See also: Pages 2: Last paragraph in document modified even when it doesn’t appear to be selected.

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