Pages 1.0.x: How to apply ‘Keep lines together’ to a list style

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Pages
August 5th, 2005 • 10:40 am

I must admit I find the way that Pages handles automatic list formatting rather confusing. Maybe it’s just because I am so used to doing things manually in Word with my own user-defined list styles (not using Word’s built-in automatic list formatting, which is too crappy and too buggy for words).

The essential concept to grasp in Pages, I think, is that a list style is a special kind of paragraph style that is applied on top of a paragraph’s existing paragraph style. In other words, every paragraph in a Pages document has two styles: a paragraph style and a list style. By default, of course, the list style is “None.” But if you apply the list style called “Bullet” to a paragraph of text that is currently in the paragraph style “Body,” the paragraph does not lose its “Body” paragraph style formatting. The “Bullet” list style is applied on top of the “Body” paragraph style.

This is particularly important when, like me this morning, you are trying to add a formatting option such as “Keep lines together” (in Pages’ inspector window, under “Text › More“) to a list style. This is a rather common requirement, because typically bullet lists consist of short items that are just a few lines long. You don’t particularly want to have an automatic page break right in the middle of one of those list items.

By default, however, the “Bullet” list style in Pages does not include the option to keep lines together. So you might want to change the style definition. But if you apply the “Bullet” list style to a list of items, and then go to the inspector window and check the “Keep lines together” option, you’ll notice that the small down-pointing triangle next to the “Bullet” list style in the Styles drawer does not become red. And if you click on that triangle, the option to “Redefine Style From Selection” is disabled.

So how do you add this “Keep lines together” option to the definition of a list style? Well, the bottom-line is that you don’t. Since every paragraph that is in a list style is also in an underlying paragraph style, you actually need to add the “Keep lines together” option to the underlying paragraph style instead.

This is a bit weird, because it means that you might have to define another paragraph style just for that particular purpose. For example, if your list of items is in the paragraph style “Body” and you apply to this list the list style “Bullet“, and you want the list of items to have the “Keep lines together” option, you first need to create a separate paragraph style called “Body – Keep lines together,” for example.

(When you have a paragraph in the “Body” paragraph style and you check the “Keep lines together” option in the inspector window, the triangle next to the “Body” paragraph style does become red, and you can click on it to select the command “Create New Paragraph Style From Selection…“)

I am not entirely sure why Apple adopted this approach as opposed to an approach where list styles would just ordinary paragraph styles, or an approach where list style definitions could incorporate standard paragraph formatting options such as the “Keep lines together” and “Keep with following paragraph” options, but that’s the way it is in Pages. They probably had valid reasons to choose to operate this way. I guess the idea is that you can have a single bullet list style that can be applied on top of a variety of different paragraph styles, without having to define several different bullet list styles.

Anyway, the bottom-line here is that it is not impossible to add an option such as “Keep lines together” to an automatically formatted list style in Pages. You just need to add it to the definition of the underlying paragraph style, as opposed to the list style itself (whose definition is restricted to list-related options, which are found in the “Text › List” tab in the inspector window).

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