Unordered Lists

If you were to create a list in an e-mail, how would you do it? Chances are, you’d mark list items using the same characters that Asciidoctor uses to find list items.

Basic unordered list

In the example below, each list item is marked using an asterisk (*), the AsciiDoc syntax specifying an unordered list item.

* Edgar Allen Poe
* Sheri S. Tepper
* Bill Bryson

A list item’s first line of text must be offset from the marker (*) by at least one space. If you prefer, you can indent list items. Blank lines are required before and after a list. Additionally, blank lines are permitted, but not required, between list items.

Rendered unordered list
  • Edgar Allen Poe

  • Sheri S. Tepper

  • Bill Bryson

You can add a title to a list by prefixing the title with a period (.).

.Kizmet's Favorite Authors
* Edgar Allen Poe
* Sheri S. Tepper
* Bill Bryson
Rendered unordered list with a title
Kizmet’s Favorite Authors
  • Edgar Allen Poe

  • Sheri S. Tepper

  • Bill Bryson

Was your instinct to use a hyphen (-) instead of an asterisk to mark list items? Guess what? That works too!

- Edgar Allen Poe
- Sheri S. Tepper
- Bill Bryson

You should reserve the hyphen for lists that only have a single level because the hyphen marker (-) doesn’t work for nested lists. Now that we’ve mentioned nested lists, let’s go to the next section and learn how to create lists with multiple levels.

Separating Lists

If you have adjacent lists, they have the tendency to want to fuse together. To force lists apart, insert a line comment (//) surrounded by blank lines between the two lists. Here’s an example, where the - text in the line comment indicates the line serves as an “end of list” marker:

* Apples
* Oranges

//-

* Walnuts
* Almonds

Nested unordered list

To nest an item, just add another asterisk (*) in front of it.

.Possible DefOps manual locations
* West wood maze
** Maze heart
*** Reflection pool
** Secret exit
* Untracked file in git repository
Rendered nested, unordered list
Possible DefOps manual locations
  • West wood maze

    • Maze heart

      • Reflection pool

    • Secret exit

  • Untracked file in git repository

You can have up to five levels of nesting.

* level 1
** level 2
*** level 3
**** level 4
***** level 5
* level 1
  • level 1

    • level 2

      • level 3

        • level 4

          • level 5

  • level 1

While it would seem as though the number of asterisks represents the nesting level, that’s not how depth is determined. A new level is created for each unique marker encountered. However, it’s much more intuitive to follow the convention that the number of asterisks equals the level of nesting. After all, we are shooting for plain text markup that is readable as is.

Custom markers

Asciidoctor offers numerous bullet styles for lists. The list marker (bullet) is set using the list’s block style.

The unordered list marker can be set using any of the following block styles:

  • square

  • circle

  • disc

  • none or no-bullet (indented, but no bullet)

  • unstyled (no indentation or bullet) (HTML only)

These styles are supported by the default Asciidoctor stylesheet.

When present, the style name is assigned to the unordered list element as follows:

For HTML

the style name is assigned to the class attribute on the <ul> element.

For DocBook

the style name is assigned to the mark attribute on the <itemizedlist> element.

Here’s an unordered list that has square bullets:

[square]
* one
* two
* three
  • one

  • two

  • three