The problem with automatic settings in programs like Word is that one size does not fit all. The amount of indent you want will depend on your column width and the type size, and maybe even the bullet character you choose, as well as any personal aesthetic considerations you might have.
Ok, but I'm surprised that Indesign does not do this automatically like all word processors and email clients do! Even this forum's message input form list option can do it automatically!
Maybe you were looking for Type -> Bulleted & Numbered Lists -> Apply Bullets? You select the text you want to turn into a list, and it automagically applies the bullet and the correct amount negative indent. You can also adjust it under the Bullets and Numbering section of your paragraph style.
Fact of the matter is that InDesign can do it automatically, but you will find very few people in this forum (chock-full of InDesign experts) who will tell you that Apply Bullets is a better tool than building your own list in a paragraph style. In fact, it seems that they don't even remember it's there! The only reason I'm really familiar with it is that I often Convert Bullets and Numbering to Text on a daily basis, which appears in the same sub-menu and converts bullets from what you want to what Peter and Jongware (and I) prefer.
I tend to shun away from CS4's halfhearted implementation and prefer my hand-made lists. At least these don't need manual overrides or a second style to "re-start at 1"
But I do prefer converting existing lists (iff not too complicated) into ID's Own for text to be converted to an e-pub. Since I use CS5.5 to do so, not CS6, I get what I want in my e-pub: a perfectly good HTML Ordered or Unordered List. Well, that, and the default formatting. You win some, you lose some.
I'm using Indesign CS6. I tried "Type -> Bulleted & Numbered Lists -> Apply Bullets" to several sentences but it does not work. The following is the before and after. I noticed that the "Left Indent" (.75 in) and "First Line Left Indent" (-0.25 in) values did not match after performing "Apply Bullets". The "First Line Left Indent" value should have been (-0.75 in).
However, i tried it on a new empty document and it did work. So i must have something set that is missing up the bullet indent.
Indents in auto-bulleted lists derive from the current paragraph style and local formatting. If I start a brand-new document, and enter three paragraphs in Basic Paragraph style, with no indenting whatsoever, and then apply auto-bullets, I get 1p6 worth of indent. In order to figure out why auto-bulleting is behaving the way it is in your document, there are a number of variables to examine. In what paragraph style is your sample set? What are the indent and tab positions set to in the Bulleting and Numbering section of that paragraph style?
The "First Line Left Indent" value should have been (-0.75 in).
How so? I thought you said you set it to -0.25 inches.
In general, dealing with this particular toolset in ID makes me balder & greyer faster than is warranted by my genes, so I am with Jongware here: I'd rather just do it all myself. I was also doing my own ordered lists with hand-tooled code in epub; I'll have to give this a try in CS5.5 to see how easy it is.