How to Create Multilevel Lists in Google Docs

380667 How to Create Multilevel Lists in Google Docs

Google Docs makes it easy to organize your documents with multilevel numbered, bulleted, and checklist lists. Structured outlines with main points and sub-points help break down information and improve readability. This guide will teach you how to leverage lists to format your Docs.

Creating Basic Docs Lists

The first step is learning how to make a basic single-level list. Here’s what to do:

  1. Highlight the lines of text you want to convert into a list
  2. Click the Bulleted list or Numbered list toolbar button
  3. Choose your desired bullet or numbering style

Once applied, your text will transform into a polished list format. You can create lists on blank lines or apply them to existing paragraphs.

Tip: Use Ctrl+Z (Windows) or Command+Z (Mac) to undo if you make a mistake.

Customizing List Formats

Don’t settle for the default list appearance. You can customize them to match your document style:

  • Symbols: Choose from circles, squares, arrows, checkboxes, etc.
  • Numbering: Pick from numerals, letters, roman numerals, etc.
  • Colors: Match company branding by changing bullet colors.
  • Line Spacing: Set the exact spacing between list items.
  • Indentation: Increase indents to visually distinguish lists.
  • Fonts: Format lists with custom fonts and sizes.

Follow these steps to access formatting options:

  1. Click directly on an existing bullet or number
  2. Select Format > Bullets & Numbering
  3. Modify formats in the sidebar

Take time to get your lists looking just right. Consistent formatting will give your documents a polished, professional feel.

Building Multilevel Lists

The true power of Docs lists comes from multiple levels. Follow along to learn this valuable skill.

Creating Sub-Lists

To make a nested sub-list under an existing point, follow these steps:

  1. Put your cursor at the end of a line item
  2. Press the Tab key on your keyboard
  3. Type your sub-point text
  4. Press Enter twice to return to the main level
  • Main Point
    • Sub-point
    • Sub-point
  • Main Point

Repeat tabbing additional times to make sub-sub-lists or additional hierarchy levels.

Tip: Use Shift+Tab to un-indent lines and return to higher levels.

Organizing Outlines

Leverage nested lists to organize outlines with main topics and detailed sub-topics.

  1. Main Topic
    1. Sub-topic detail
      1. Sub-sub-topic detail
    2. Sub-topic detail
  2. Main Topic
    1. Sub-topic detail

This structures your thoughts while improving readability. Outlines also make great table of contents frameworks.


Turn lists into interactive checklists using the toolbar button. This lets you track progress:

  • [ ] Incomplete task
  • [x] Completed task
  • [ ] Incomplete task

Checklists help with managing workflows, planning events, delegating assignments, and more.

Switching List Formats

Don’t worry about getting list structures perfect on the first try. It’s simple to switch formats on-the-fly:

  1. Highlight the full list
  2. Click the new list type button
  3. Formats update automatically

You can go from numbered to bulleted, checklist to numbered, etc. Experiment until you find the right fit.

List Best Practices

Follow these best practices when working with Docs lists:

  • Use lists to organize thoughts into scannable points
  • Introduce list topics with a heading or brief paragraph
  • Be consistent with indentation depths and spacing
  • Limit main points to 4-6 items for easier reading
  • Break long lists into multiple shorter ones
  • Use bold text sparingly to emphasize important keywords
  • End lists with concluding sentences tying points together

Keep these tips in mind in order to create clean, professional-looking lists.

Example List Structure

See below for an example of effective list usage:

Heading Introducing List Topic

Paragraph expanding on points about to be made. Prepare the reader before diving into the details.

  1. First Main Point
    • Supporting detail
    • Supporting detail
  2. Second Main Point
    1. Sub-detail
    2. Sub-detail
  3. Third Main Point

Concluding sentence tying it all together. Recap the importance of the list.

Advanced List Formatting

You have the basics down, but let’s take it further with some advanced tactics.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Work faster by applying lists with simple key commands:

  • Ctrl+Shift+L (Windows) or Command+Shift+L (Mac): Bulleted list
  • Ctrl+Shift+N (Windows) or Command+Shift+N (Mac): Numbered list

Use these shortcuts to toggle lists on/off for efficiency.

List Paragraph Spacing

Control spacing between list items using Format > Line spacing:

  1. Item 1
  2. Item 2
  3. Item 3

This looks more polished than cramped lists. Find the right paragraph spacing for your document.

List Text Formatting

Use bold and italic text for additional visual organization:

  • Create the list structure
  • Customize formats
  • Experiment with styles

Avoid overusing custom text formats. Use them strategically on important phrases.


You now have the knowledge to create multilevel bulleted, numbered, and checklist lists in Google Docs. Use best practices to organize content while enhancing readability. Lists transform scattered thoughts into structured outlines.

Take time formatting polished lists that will make your documents stand out. Consistency and visual hierarchy are key.

For more information, refer to Google’s official support documentation on lists. Reach out with any other questions!

About The Author