Can some kind soul show me how to specify the amount of horizontal space between list symbols (bullets, numbers, etc.) and item text in ConTeXt?

Specifically, I'm trying to create a bulleted list in ConTeXt with the bullets in the margins, which I've done, as reproduced in the example below. But I'd like to change the horizontal space between the bullets and the item text (specifically, I'd like to make it smaller). I've pored over the setupitemgroup documentation page, and have tried setting margin, leftmargin, distance, and textdistance, but none of these seem to do what I'm looking for. I'd be grateful for any help you can provide.




\|← left margin

\item I like how my bullet is in the margin
\item but I wish it were just a little closer


output of example code

  • \labelsep is the length used. Note, the bullet will move to the right unless you also change \itemindent (default = 0pt, and is reset each itemize). Nov 14, 2015 at 22:27
  • @John, correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think \labelsep exists in ConTeXt.
    – lefthander
    Nov 14, 2015 at 22:57
  • Beats the heck out of me. I have no idea what ConTeXt is. Nov 14, 2015 at 23:11
  • 1
    ConTeXt is a document processing system built on top of Donald Knuth's TeX. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ConTeXt; wiki.contextgarden.net/Main_Page.
    – lefthander
    Nov 14, 2015 at 23:38
  • 2
    To have the text of your itemgroup aligned with the border of the textblock you can set a negative value for the margin key, which has to be the same value as width because it is used for the indentation. The distance between the bullet and the text can be controlled with the distance key. The complete setup for this is \setupitemgroup[MyItems][each][packed][width=5mm,margin=-5mm,distance=3mm,itemalign=flushright]. Nov 15, 2015 at 15:22

1 Answer 1


To see that is happening, add \showframed before \starttext, which shows:

enter image description here

So, the distance is equal to the distance between the left margin and text box, which is controlled by leftmargindistance key to \setuplayout. So, if you add:


you get

enter image description here

Edit Up on replying to a comment by Manuel, if occurred to me that perhaps you just want bullets that protrude to the left and are not necessarily in the margin. In that case, you can use:

\setupitemgroup[MyItems][each][packed][margin=-1em, width=1em]

Note that in this case, the bullet is not placed in the margin.

enter image description here

  • 2
    But it seems rather bad to customize the layout to change that rather than an itemgroup parameter.
    – Manuel
    Nov 15, 2015 at 8:18
  • @Manuel is it because \setuplayout affects the effects of the whole document? I would have just \advance\leftskip \item by a value, and then lean over and kern it back.
    – doed
    Nov 15, 2015 at 14:21
  • 1
    @Manuel: The idea is that inmargin places the bullet in the ... well ... the margin. If you just want a negative left kern, you can use \startitemize[margin=-2em, width=2em], etc. See my updated answer
    – Aditya
    Nov 19, 2015 at 5:12
  • @Aditya Wonderful explanation.
    – Manuel
    Nov 19, 2015 at 15:37

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