Metanorma: Aequitate Verum




Metanorma AsciiDoc supports three types of lists:

  • Unordered lists

  • Ordered lists

  • Definition lists

Unordered lists

Unordered lists are bulleted lists, entered using the asterisk (*) symbol. Unordered lists can be nested by prefixing additional asterisks.

The main changes compared to the previous edition are:

* updated normative references;
* deletions:
** deletion of 4.3. [nested list item]
** deletion of 4.4. [nested list item]

Ordered lists

Ordered lists are invoked by beginning the line with a dot .. The list items are numbered automatically. The default list uses arabic numbers, but can vary depending on the defined style of the Metanorma flavor.

. First Step
. Second Step
. Third Step

Definition lists

Definition lists pair a term and a description together in a list, separated by two or more colon symbols (:).

Definition lists are often used to define abbreviations, units or symbols.

In Metanorma, the Terms section uses a special syntax for defining terms.
Definition lists are also sometimes called description lists.

Definition lists follow the syntax of:

`term:: Definition`
Example of definitions for units
stem:[w]:: is the mass fraction of grains with a particular defect in the test sample;
stem:[m_D]:: is the mass, in grams, of grains with that defect;
stem:[m_S]:: is the mass, in grams, of the test sample.
stem:[] is used for mathematical formatting, and results in italics. So stem:[w] is an italic w, w; stem:[m_D] is an italic m with a D subscript: mD.


Referencing a list item

You can reference a single list item using the internal reference mechanism.

Simply assign an anchor before the list item:

Example of list items that can be referenced
. Ordered list
.. [[id1]] This is the first list item
... [[id2]] This is a list sub-item

List items with more than one paragraph

Metanorma AsciiDoc supports multiple paragraphs within a single list item through list continuation.

In HTML output, all the paragraphs within a list item will be aligned.
Microsoft Word caveats
  • For list items containing multiple paragraphs, Metanorma attempts to format them appropriately by using custom list continuation styles (ListContLevel1 etc.) applied to groups of paragraphs; however, you should check the output document and may need to manually intervene.

  • In Microsoft Word, each list entry must be a single paragraph. Metanorma is employing a workaround through list continuation styles, and results may be unexpected if the list is edited.

List styling

Unordered list styling

The default styling for unordered lists are bullets. Metanorma does not support other styles for unordered lists.

Ordered list styling


The default styling for ordered lists follow the specifications of ISO/IEC DIR 2 and is the same for each output type:

  • level 1: a), b), c) (alphabetic),

  • level 2: 1), 2), 3) (arabic),

  • level 3: i), ii), iii) (roman),

  • level 4: A), B), C) (alphabetic_upper),

  • level 5: I), II), III) (roman_upper).

This labeling applies to all output formats, including PDF, HTML and Word.

Step lists

In some situations an integer-numbered list is needed for specification of process steps.

In certain flavours (NIST, ITU, OGC), class=steps is used to override the default numbering, and use Arabic numbering as the base instead:

  • level 1: 1), 2), 3)

  • level 2: a), b), c)

  • level 3: i), ii), iii)

  • level 4: A), B), C)

  • level 5: I), II), III)

Specification of start label

The start attribute can be specified for ordered lists to specify the start label of the ordered list.

The start attribute for ordered lists is only allowed by certain Metanorma flavors, such as BIPM and ISO. This is because of the difficulty of realising the list numbering starting other than at 1 in autonumbered lists in Word HTML.

Specification of list type

The type attribute can be used to specify the list numbering using values from above. Manually-styled lists are not supported by all flavors.

The accepted values are:


a), b), c)


1), 2), 3)


i), ii), iii)


A), B), C)


I), II), III)

Example 1. Example for a manually-styled list
. First as "A"
. Second as "B"

. First as "I"
. Second as "II"

This is a historical note that applies to isodoc v1.3.0 to v2.0.2.

The type attribute, with acceptable values listed in the list above, could be used to allow specifying labels of an ordered list [added in].

In Word rendering the type attribute is always ignored in favor of ISO/IEC DIR 2 compliant labelling.

As of v2.0.3, the ability to specify the type attribute has been retracted [added in], because of the bugs it introduces with list cross-referencing and rendering.

Definition list styling

Definition lists are rendered by default horizontally, with the definition in the same line as the term.

In Word output, definition lists are rendered as true tables. Word defines the width of the term column using the auto-width algorithm, and might cause words to break.

To ensure that terms are rendered in a single line in Word, you need to use non-breaking spaces and non-breaking hyphens in HTML escape notation.

  • Non-breaking spaces:   or  

  • Non-breaking hyphens ‑

Example 2. Example for a non-breaking sentence

Instead of entering:

This is a non-breaking term.


This\ is\ a\ non\‑breaking\ term.