20 Replies Latest reply on May 15, 2006 11:50 AM by mballai

    Numbers/Bullets and Spacing

    Em_57
      I am trying to format an existing document for RoboHelp that contains a lot of numbered or bulleted lists. I really don't like using the automated number/bullet features of Word, and also am not fond of what happens with the spacing and indents when the automated numbers/bullets are brought into RoboHelp. As a work-around I tried typing in the numbers and bullets using the keypad and adjusting the spacing between the bullet/number and following text by typing placeholder characters in white (my background is white). This seems to work fine in my set-up, but am I asking for trouble when other users view the final product with other computers/browsers? This seems like a simple solution to me but am concerned that I may be creating other problems for the future. Any thoughts?
        • 1. Re: Numbers/Bullets and Spacing
          Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional (Moderator)
          Welcome to the forum.

          Are you using RH for Word or RH HTML and which version?

          When you refer to placeholder characters I take it you mean spaces. I think they could cause problems in some browsers.

          Take a look at the topic on Importing Word documents on my site. It is aimed at RH HTML users but it may help.

          • 2. Re: Numbers/Bullets and Spacing
            Em_57 Level 1
            Using RH HTML X5.

            What I am doing is typing a bullet character in black, then two S's in white, then continuing on with my text in black. No spaces. This little manuever, along with the proper first line indent of -.25 in and Helvetica font, yields lovely and properly aligned bullets and text.

            I guess the question is, will my white SS remain invisible?
            • 3. Numbers/Bullets and Spacing
              Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional (Moderator)
              Probably will work but may also show up if user selects the text or prints it (if they print on coloured paper). May also confuse the hell out of whoever takes over from you in time. Better to solve the problem.

              You say you don't like what happens but you don't describe the problem you get.

              If it is what I think it might be, that is covered in the topic I referred to.

              • 4. Re: Numbers/Bullets and Spacing
                Em_57 Level 1
                I'm a graphics/layout person and have never been comfortable with using the automated bullets/numbering features of Word because I like to have control over the appearance. (I'm open to the possibility that I don't completely understand how Word handles the automated stuff. But I've had their automated features cause me more grief than not.) Also, when you bring automated bullets/numbering from Word into RH, the HTML code seems to apply its spacing and indent rules to the text and doesn't allow for tabs (correct me if I'm wrong). And the HTML formatting doesn't please me!

                My desire is to have the bullets and numbered lists line up at the left margin and also control the spacing between the bullets/numbers and the following text. Hence, my attempt at being sneaky with the white text.

                Someone else ever having to deal with my "invisible" characters is highly unlikely, but it will be viewed by many different folks.

                I have read many of your articles and they have been very helpful in trying to understand the RH world. Thank you for your insights.
                • 5. Re: Numbers/Bullets and Spacing
                  marilyng Level 1
                  EM 57

                  I agree, and what I did was convert all my bullets to either UL or OL lists using a CSS style, or to tables with the bullet being in the first column. I did keep a parallel style sheet, so that bullet-indent in word was a style bullet-indent in Robohelp and how I wanted the text to appear in Robohelp. So when I imported, I selected the RObohelp style sheet, rather than have Robohelp create the Word style sheet.
                  • 6. Re: Numbers/Bullets and Spacing
                    Em_57 Level 1
                    Thanks marilyng, it's always nice to know I'm not alone.

                    I have a follow-on question for anyone. Is the fact that you don't have the benefit of tabs in HTML the sole reason for using automated bullet/numbered lists (as opposed to just typing the numbers and bullets). I do realize that is a big challenge, but am I missing something else?

                    • 7. Re: Numbers/Bullets and Spacing
                      ElisaFnord Level 2
                      Hi, Em.

                      I can give you the most likely answer to your question about no tabs in HTML. Please take into account that my understanding is pretty much on the "for dummies" level.

                      HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language, and it actually descended from a family of markup languages (SGML is one you might have heard of). A markup language essentially identifies different kinds of text with standard labels and then defines what to do with each lump of labeled text. In the case of HTML, the focus of these definitions is displaying text in a browser and linking text to other pieces of information.

                      If you see a total lack of the words "layout" and "picture" in that explanation, you're right. HTML shares the markup language bias towards text. HTML was also designed not to control the layout too tightly, so that information could be displayed on any browser.

                      You can guess how long that lasted - HTML has come a long way in terms of layout power. But its underlying structure is the same - and two of the pillars are the UL (unordered list - bulleted) and OL (ordered list - numbered). You can create a hanging indent, but you can't tab - HTML literally doesn't have any way to know where a tab setting is.

                      It is possible to get a lot more control over HTML using CSS (cascading style sheets). I recommend a beginner's book on HTML/CSS - I'm partial to the Visual QuickStart Guide to HTML. Armed with CSS skills, you can do a lot more with the style sheet you use in your RH for HTML project than RoboHelp does.

                      I think you'd really enjoy this - and knowing HTML can't hurt the career of a layout person. ("Oh, who can help us fix our web site?" "Why, I can do that!" "My hero!")

                      Elisa
                      • 8. Re: Numbers/Bullets and Spacing
                        mballai
                        I've always found that importing Word bullets into WebHelp X5 rarely worked. They weren't the same as what RoboHelp does. I'd copy the oddly bulleted text into my text editor (NoteTab Light) strip the bullets with a search and replace and just apply bullets afresh with RoboHelp's bullet maker to the clean text.

                        I've developed a completely customizable CSS way to make bulleted lists not limited to RHs presets. You need to know a little CSS to use it, but it adds a lot of flexibilty.
                        • 9. Re: Numbers/Bullets and Spacing
                          ElisaFnord Level 2
                          Hey, mballai!

                          If you can scam up a list of your customizable CSS styles with samples, it would certainly help the help community!

                          One of the things I don't like about RH's default.css is that there are a lot of way powerful classes out there that non-CSS experts don't know about. Just for example, the default doesn't have any TD styles defined.

                          So if you have a list of styles that don't show up in default, and maybe an example of how to use text styles plus list styles to get those darn bullets to line up where you want them, I'd love to have it!

                          Elisa
                          • 10. Re: Numbers/Bullets and Spacing
                            Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional (Moderator)
                            If anyone following this thread has to generate printed documentation from RH, then be aware that problems may arise. If you change the appearance of ordered and unordered (numbered and bulleted), you need to test thoroughly what happens when you generate the printed version.

                            Look under Mapping to Different Styles in this topic. Click here.

                            To be honest that topic needs to be retitled and rewritten to make it clearer. It's a topic I sort of abandoned before I had completed it.

                            The key point is that if you change things so that the indents are different when you use the bullet icon, you will probably be OK. If you created additional styles, they may be beautiful online but don't rely on the same appearance coming through in Word.

                            Test early and if it works, great. A lot of us though leave generating the printed version until last and if you find out then that it does not work properly, you might not have much time to sort it out.
                            • 11. Re: Numbers/Bullets and Spacing
                              Em_57 Level 1
                              Thanks for all the words of wisdom and/or experience, clearly I am an RH-HTML-CSS neophyte. And I was kinda hoping to stay that way ... my partner has always had the programming role and my place was to say "Hmm, I don't like how that looks." I'm starting to get the feeling that may need to change ... Also, I work in Mac and RH is on his PC setup.

                              However, I still would like to be able to give him a Word doc that he could bring into RH without having to delve too deeply (if at all) into CSS. I have let go of the "white characters to simulate the tab space" idea, as small parts of the end product may get printed out, and the white characters get interpreted by something and print grey.

                              So, my next attempt is to put the bullets/numbers into tables in Word. I thought I saw a thread somewhere on this forum about that, but I can't seem to locate it now. The basic concept does seem to work. The challenge is it appears that a large left cell margin gets inserted somewhere in the journey from Word to RH. Is this "normal" and can I work around it?

                              thanks
                              • 12. Re: Numbers/Bullets and Spacing
                                Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional (Moderator)
                                Hi Em (or should that be Em space?)

                                Can I just confirm that you are preparing documents in Word and then handing them over to someone to import into RH HTML?

                                Is that the only option as importing Word docs into RH is notoriously fraught with problems? Did you look at the topics on my site about that?

                                If Word is the only option, I wonder if Dreamweaver is available to you? If it is import the document into that as DW writes very clean code and does not create an embedded stylesheet in the same way as RH. Therefore once your document is in Dreamweaver it will look wrong until you apply a stylesheet. In your case you would save the html file in Dreamweaver, import it into RH and then apply the stylesheet. That may have less impact and give you a RH topic that is more inline with your Word original.

                                I have tried the importing into DW part and it does give clean code.

                                • 13. Re: Numbers/Bullets and Spacing
                                  Em_57 Level 1
                                  My vision is to prep the docs in Word (where they already exist from a prior purpose) and then hand off to my partner who will bring them into RH. I have read and seen from this trial that this is a less than perfect vision. But if I can figure out the details of what the two programs are doing (and their operation is consistent!) I still hold out hope that we may be able to make it work.

                                  We don't have Dreamweaver at this time. It may be that some some HTML learning is in my future, but clearly I am avoiding that right now.

                                  Thanks
                                  • 14. Re: Numbers/Bullets and Spacing
                                    Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional (Moderator)
                                    quote:

                                    I still hold out hope that we may be able to make it work.


                                    I have seen words to that effect many times before. I wish you luck and may you be the first to come back with a real success story! I don't mean to discourage you, rather to say be ready to stop banging your head after some effort and before you do real damage.

                                    Do try the method of importing on my site as that is the only method of importing bullets that truly are bullet points that I have found or seen reported.

                                    Good luck.
                                    • 15. Re: Numbers/Bullets and Spacing
                                      Em_57 Level 1
                                      okay, one last query

                                      Why do I care if I am using true bullets (i.e. properly generated, automatically formatted big dots) or typing in a bullet character? Is there some important interpretation in HTML that I'm missing? Or is it just that it allows for a "hanging indent and tab" effect in a world without tabs?

                                      Thanks all ... I've learned a lot ... some it actually useful!!
                                      • 16. Re: Numbers/Bullets and Spacing
                                        Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional (Moderator)
                                        Yes it is about hanging indents. Go to the end of a list that has been created from a Word import and hit enter.

                                        If the appearance concerns you to the level you describe here then not having true bullets will give you an even bigger problem.
                                        • 17. Re: Numbers/Bullets and Spacing
                                          MergeThis Level 4
                                          You could seriously reduce the angst caused by this method: don't do any bullets in Word!

                                          Create your items as normal paragraphs, no extra line breaks between them, then add formatting keys to the group (START BULLETS and END BULLETS). Your RH person would then set the bullets via the Bullet icon on the toolbar, and remove your formatting keys. (Also useful for Numbers, of course.)


                                          Good luck,
                                          Leon
                                          • 18. Re: Numbers/Bullets and Spacing
                                            mballai Level 1
                                            Sorry I've been away and didn't get an email. Here's the basic way to add a special character bullet in RH. In your style sheet or in the <style </style> section on the html page you need a bit of magic:
                                            .regindent { margin-left: -1em; padding-right: .5em; }
                                            Then you make your list using none as your style. This code goes right where you want the list to appear in the TrueCode editor. In this case we use an En Dash
                                            <ol style="list-style: none;">
                                            <li class=kadov-p><p><span class=regindent><symbol name="En Dash"></span>Your text here</p></li>
                                            <li class=kadov-p><p><span class=regindent><symbol name="En Dash"></span>More of your text here</p></li>
                                            </ol>
                                            To use other special characters, try the Symbol insert menu to see what info goes into the symbol name quotes. You can just put any regular character in there if you so desire without the Symbol bracketed code. Of course you can also use a different size fonts/colors to dress things up.
                                            • 19. Re: Numbers/Bullets and Spacing
                                              themint100 Level 1
                                              Em,

                                              One other idea...rather than using the "SS" characters, you could use an old HTML trick. Include a transparent .gif image, 1 pixel x 1 pixel, in your graphics directory. Insert the graphic between your numbers and the paragraph text with a height of 1 and width of your choice. You can get *exact* pixel spacing that way, and the image should never print. A little clunky, but an option...

                                              I still think sorting out the formatting issue is the better way, this is just an old hand-coder's trick.

                                              -Greg
                                              • 20. Re: Numbers/Bullets and Spacing
                                                mballai Level 1
                                                Just a note re spacing. I use em numbering cause it seems to work no matter what. You can also adjust the spacing by changing the numbers.

                                                One other thing. You can use this without any list code at all. I use the list code so I instantly recognize what I'm dealing with when I read the code.