Suppose I have some text presented in a two-level hierarchy (whether using lists or headings isn’t important) as follows:

 1. ITEM 1. Along with some text that is
    relevant to ITEM 1. This item contains
    text one level down, as follows:
      1.1 Item. And some associated
      1.2 Item. And some associated
      1.3 Item. And some associated
 2. ITEM 2. Along with some text that is
    relevant to ITEM 2. This item contains
    text one level down, as follows:
      2.1 Item. And some associated
      2.2 Item. And some associated
      2.3 Item. And some associated
    But here is some more text that is 
    relevant to ITEM 2. Note that it is
    after and not within the lower level.
 3. ITEM 3. Along with some text that is
    relevant to ITEM 3.
 4. ITEM 4. Along with…(and so on)

My question pertains to the form of layout being applied to the text at the end of ITEM 2; the part beginning, “But here is some more text…”. For that text, although I have “popped” back up a level of of hierarchy, I have not advanced into the next item of the higher level — i.e. in this case, I have continued my text within ITEM 2, and not moved into ITEM 3. And so, noting that with most text-focused software—MS Word and the like—support for this style of layout is either non-existent or, at best, highly non-obvious, my questions are:

  1. Does that style have a formal name; a layout term of art if you like?
  2. Why is it so poorly supported?

(Note: before posting here, I must have spent at least an hour trying to figure out where best to ask this question. GD would not have been my immediate choice, largely because while what I’m asking about certainly does touch on GD, at heart it is perhaps more about representing semantics in document structure as opposed to form. Nevertheless, the general wisdom seemed to be that this has a sufficiently large overlap with [typography] and since [typography] is legit in GD then so is my question. Shrug. If that’s wrong, I’d be grateful for suggestions as to where I might ask, or even for the name of the field into which this question fits.)

  • 1
    Graphic design is about communicating. Structuring is part of that
    – joojaa
    Commented Apr 4, 2021 at 18:47
  • Sidenote: I am wondering whether the subitems should be indented. For example 1.1. Shouldn't it be aligned with ITEM 1? Right now there are two indents in front of 1.1 but it's only one level deeper than 1.
    – Wolff
    Commented Apr 4, 2021 at 21:56

1 Answer 1


Yes its called a paragraph.

Word is perhaps not the program that you want to use as a metric for what is possible or even common.

  1. For example stackexhange handles this kind of structure with no problems.

    1. See you can have number of items
    2. Inside each other

    And return to previous level

  2. Then add a item.

  3. Although the css may not be super optimal for this.

What you have does in no way differ from having a nested headings. Only you are having list items inside list of items. This may not be super optimal though unless your second level list is really much shorter than the other and clearly a separate list.

Why? Well you dont want people to lose track of the positioning or it will get confusing fast. Anyway lists are meant to be just that lists for items that you enumerate. Indeed some styleguides forbid this.

You can indeed do this in word but you have to kill numbering for the paragraph but keep the level. The problem with this kind of structure is that the automatic system can not know whether you intended for the paragraph to be numbered or not so its automatically more clunky as you need to tell compuer more than a new paragraph.

Whether or not its nonobvious depends on person. Theres no good way to do this without needing extra bookkeeping. In either case theres always 3 choices at the end of a list item. In more advanced typography you might need a fourth option.

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