29

Is there a way to change how description lists are indented?

I have something like:

Normal text

List item
List Item

I would like something like:

Normal text

    List item
    List Item
  • 1
    If you have access to Lamport's book, the many settings affecting description lists (and other lists) are described there in great detail. – Harald Hanche-Olsen Jan 26 '11 at 21:29
47

I recommend to use the enumitem package which offers a lot of features for customizing lists - both fine tuning and also consistent list adjustment. For example, just by \setlist[description]{leftmargin=1cm,labelindent=1cm} you could indent the description list by 1 cm. Raise leftmargin or use any value you like for the arguments. More can be found in the package documentation.

A complete example:

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage{enumitem}
\setlist[description]{leftmargin=\parindent,labelindent=\parindent}
\begin{document}
\section{Test}
left aligned text
\begin{description}
 \item[One] first item
 \item[Two] second item
 \item[Three] third item
\end{description}
\end{document}

enter image description here

With enumitem, you could even specify it locally, case-by-case, using optional arguments:

\begin{description}[labelindent=1cm]
...
  • 1
    Note: \parindent doesn't work if you have another description within a description item. cm seems to be ok. – Karoly Horvath Jul 23 '13 at 8:26
10

I like Stefan's answer a lot, but if you'd prefer not to install a new package and are okay with a hacky solution, you could just enclose the description in a quote or quotation environment.

5

redefine the environment:

\documentclass{article}
\renewenvironment{description}[1][0pt]
  {\list{}{\labelwidth=0pt \leftmargin=#1
   \let\makelabel\descriptionlabel}}
  {\endlist}

\parindent=0pt
\begin{document}
\rule{\linewidth}{1pt}

default text
\begin{description}
 \item[foo] bar
 \item[foobar] bar
 \item[foo] bar
\end{description}

\begin{description}[1cm]
 \item[foo] bar
 \item[foobar] bar
 \item[foo] bar
\end{description}
\end{document}

enter image description here

  • 1
    Is that the only way? Is there no way to achieve that in case-by-case scenario? – Tiago Veloso Jan 26 '11 at 21:50
2

Also, if you don't want to install another package, you can do what I've done below, since embedded lists are indented. You'll have to hit for each time you do this when you compile, though.

\begin{description}

\begin{description}

 \item[One]first item

 \item[Two]second item

 \item[Three]third item

\end{description}

\end{description}
  • Are you sure that it works? – karlkoeller Jul 6 '13 at 5:35
  • 2
    It works, but throws an error for a missing \item. Like Punya answered, using quote instead of description is then cleaner. – iled Nov 14 '16 at 6:22

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