I am trying to get the item label to flush with the left margin of the page width within itemize, i.e.:

This is my sentence. Here are my items:

    • notice my list definition is indented
    • but my item labels are all flush with the left margin and not sticking out of it

Note I am using \item[ITEMNAME] \hfill \\ to create a definition style item with a linebreak between keyword and definition, as demonstrated above. How can I get the desired flush that only affects the item's label?


Consider using the enumitem package to perform your list management. Here's an example of what you might be after:

enter image description here

\usepackage{enumitem}% http://ctan.org/pkg/enumitem
\usepackage{showframe}% http://ctan.org/pkg/showframe
  \item[FIRST ITEM] Note that my list definition is not indented
  \item[SECOND ITEM] This one is also not indented and the description
    is long enough to span two lines.

The optional argument to description performs:

  • align=left: Ensures a left-aligned item label;
  • leftmargin=*: Left margin of description is flush with left margin of text block;
  • style=nextline: Automates the process of using \hfill \\;
  • labelsep=\parindent: The gap between the label and the start of the item is \labelsep, which is set to be the same as the regular paragraph indent.
  • font=\normalfont: This modifies the default bold font of the description item to \normalfont.

If need be, you can also create a new list environment to perform these "optional settings" automatically. For this, see \newlist and \setlist in the enumitem documentation (section 7 Cloning the basic lists, p 10).

showframe was only used to emphasize the text block boundaries within the example.

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