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Formatting Nested Lists with the Ghost Blog Editor

The Microeconomics outlines I recently published made extensive use of nested lists (both unordered and ordered). Unfortunately, I immediately noticed that the Ghost blogging platform only supports single-level lists when typing directly into the editor. If you try to create nested lists, you’ll find that you simply cannot indent your list items properly using Ghost version 3.x.

Fortunately, there is a work-around. Use the Ghost editor’s “Markdown cards” and you should have no problem creating nested lists with all the levels of indentation needed.

To create a Markdown card:

  1. Open the editor’s “dynamic menu” by clicking on the “+” button or by typing “/“ into the editor.
  2. Select the “Markdown” option from the menu.
  3. This creates a “card”–an editable block of content–within your post that supports a broad range of Markdown syntax, including nested lists.

To create a list in a Markdown card:

  1. Use "*" to start an unordered list.
  2. Use a number followed by a period to start an ordered list (e.g. "1.").
  3. Alternatively you can click on the icons in the Markdown card editor to start a new list.

Keyboard shortcuts:

  • Unordered list: [CTRL]+L
    • Macs: [CMD]+L
  • Ordered list: [CTRL]+[ALT]+L
    • Macs: [CMD]+[OPTION]+L

To nest or indent a list within a list in Ghost:

  • \[TAB] key to indent lists.
  • \[TAB]+\[SHIFT] to unindent lists.

Note: If you prefer more vertical spacing between your primary and secondary indented lists, you can add a carriage return and remove the dangling list element that is created automatically. The resulting blank carriage return will add more spacing between nested list elements when rendered in your Ghost theme.

As far as deciding when to use the standard Ghost editor vs. a Markdown card, it really comes down to how much Markdown and formatting you need. If you only need to use basic Markdown elements (headings, bold, italics, etc.), use the direct Ghost editor. If you need the full range of Markdown capabilities, uses a Markdown card.

And what are some of those extended Markdown features? Here are some of the additional Markdown elements only available in Ghost's Markdown cards:

  1. Markdown tables: Create HTML tables without the hassle of HTML tags. Ghost's Markdown cards also support column alignment and some formatting elements. Learn more about this feature.
  2. Nested block quotes: Like nested lists, you can create nested block quotes by using a Markdown card. Here’s an example for how to do it:
  1. Highlighted text: Cards also support Markdown’s highlight syntax. Just enclose the text you wish to highlight within double equal signs. Example "==this will be highlighted=="). See the highlight?
  2. HTML tags: You can use tags like <strong> and <hr> and more in the Markdown and they will be interpreted as HTML. Given that the HTML support is limited in Markdown cards, it's advisable to use the HTML card if extensive markup is needed.
  3. Horizontal rules: Markdown cards process triple dashes (“---“), triple underscores (“_”) and triple asterisks (“*”) at the start of a line as horizontal rules (as well as the HTML “<hr>” tag). The Ghost editor only interprets triple dashes as a horizontal rule.

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