Lists in LaTeX with the enumitem Package

\LaTeX provides the enumerate and itemize environments for numbered and itemized (usually bulleted) lists, respectively. Various package are available that provide more customizable list environments. While preparing the third edition of Handbook of Writing for the Mathematical Sciences I came across the enumitem package and ended up using it to typeset lists throughout the book.

As well as allowing all the customizations I could possibly need, enumitem has two very useful built-in options. By default, \LaTeX lists contain quite a lot of vertical space. The nosep option, used as in


(and similarly for enumerate) removes vertical spaces in the list. The wide option, used as in


produces lists whose entries have zero indentation on the second and subsequent lines. Both options save space and look better to my eye, especially for a book. They can be combined by specifying [wide,nosep].

An example of a customization possible with enumitem is


This enumerated list has labels X1, X2, etc., and a reference such as “see \ref{item1}" reproduces the label: “see X1”.

Description environments can also be customized (I use these very little).


For examples of the above customizations see the LaTeX file and PDF output (shown to the right) in my enumitem_demo repository on GitHub.

These examples barely scratch the surface of the customizations that enumitem makes possible. Consult the manual for full details.

For guidance on how to punctuate lists see Handbook of Writing for the Mathematical Sciences (section 3.26) or my blog post Punctuating Lists.

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1 Response to Lists in LaTeX with the enumitem Package

  1. Raúl Martínez says:

    Prof. Higham,

    Thanks for your note about the enumitem package. Very timely for my LaTeX project.

    I always enjoy your posts.

    Happy Isaac Newton Day!

    Raúl Martinez


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