Row spacing: padding and "Before/After children" are frustrating

I’m mostly loving OmniOutliner 5 Pro. I’ve used OO since version 3, but when it comes to row spacing, OO5 is a step backward in my opinion. I used OO’s “spacing before” and “spacing after” in every outline, on every level. It allowed nicely-formatted outlines. It was simple, direct, and it worked.

“Above children” and “Below children” are both confusing and frustrating.

It takes WAY too much time experimenting. Every time I try to adjust spacing, I have to select the rows, set the value, then click the last child item, hit return and immediately backspace/delete to see the result. Worse, the setting isn’t applied to existing rows unless I do that click-return-backspace for every single row on that level.

As an example of the extra work it causes – let’s say I finally get Level 2’s children set (which are really level 3), so there’s some space between the last L3 row and the next L2. Now I’m typing and add an L4 – and instantly the spacing is wrecked. Now there’s extra space between L3 and L4, and no space between L4 and L2, so I have to select all the L3 levels and do “Before/After children” to set the L4s, and also select the L2 levels and do “Before/After children” to re-adjust the L3s.

All of that could be done with one setting: spacing above Level 2.

Seriously, this is so much added user friction!

And row padding adds to the confusion – because you can’t specify top vs bottom padding, spacing ends up looking inconsistent. A list might look nicely spaced with padding, but the moment you add a child item it gets wonky and you have to go through all that formatting of the child level to get it back where you want it.

A word processor gives you “before paragraph” and “after paragraph” for a reason: it’s intuitive and it works. It is much clearer to format by specifying what happens to a row, than to constantly adjust and re-adjust the rows above and below it.

This could all be solved by giving us back two simple options: space before and space after.

As a longtime user of Omni apps and an avid outliner, I implore you to consider restoring this feature.


Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but this complaint has appeared many many times. I generally agree with you, but the developers seem to strongly prefer it as it is, so I wouldn’t get my hopes up. As a workaround, I’d suggest making all the spacing very small, and then using colors to keep different levels distinct. I find that works reasonably well for me. Again, I do agree with you, but I’m just saying that many people have tried unsuccessfully to get the devs to budge on this issue.

I’m staggered that this isn’t available in a premium-priced piece of software which, as much of it’s price-justification, focuses heavily on user-formatting. All I want to do is to be able to set the gap between top-level rows so my outline is more legible. However, the developers appear to think this is too dumb to even consider. The option to pad below child rows is utterly useless if you don’t have any of them for some top-level rows. I’m a huge fan of the concept that simplicity is a virtue in much productivity software but this is bordering on insulting to users: “you’ll take what we give you, you’ll like what you get and you’ll pay through the nose for it”.

If they are that concerned about keeping the formatting panel uncluttered, why not just have an option to expand it with a fuller range of options?

Just bought the new iOS (Pro version to go with Mac Pro version) version 3 and there are no improvements on styles at all.
I would have thought that a focus on sorting out formatting would have got a lot of approval from users. Simple CSS styling would be generally more understandable and easier to use than what we have currently. Paragraph positioning as discussed here, uppercase styling and several other basic formatting rules would help users quickly and easily, and, everyday.

This is exactly what is going on with OmniFocus.

Judging by the response I received from the support team about this, they seem to be aware that this is something a lot of people are mentioning, so with a little luck it might get nudged higher up the To Do list with the devs.

I do get the trouble that they have with keeping things simple enough not to be a mess but there are a bunch of formatting options which, personally, I’d really like to see; like options for different bullet point styles for different row levels and the option to view/hide white space for on-screen versions intended to be printed (for clarity in both formats).

Still, it’s the squeaky wheel which gets oiled, so I’ll continue to gently nag them until I get my way!

Yes agreed. I am going to come up with a short list of formatting related wishes, hopefully it will strike a chord with others too.

Fingers crossed! If you’d be kind enough to post them here, I’ll happily copy any which chime with me onto my own direct feature requests to the developers (I understand that direct mailing them via the app’s “Contact Omni” menu option gets better results than anything posted here in the forums).

Off-topic for this thread but, personally, I would love to see an option to send an outline directly to a user’s default mail app. Another thing on the list: I think a Feature Request outline may be in order…

Formatting improvements to OmniOutliner

Offered in a spirit of positive support. Given that I have just bought the iOS Pro version, having recently bought the Mac Pro version, and having had the previous pro versions for some time, these points are offered in a positive spirit of wanting to see further improvements for many users. These points are not made as negative criticism. I hope that they provoke other users to add further points and encourage the developers to get a better idea of what might appeal to others.

I think there might be some easy wins/ low hanging fruit here

Word headings
Inspector For each level style should have a check box for the user to add ‘count as Word style on export’.

This could either be in an overall sequential ordering or concurrent with the document level (level 2, level 3 etc)

Exporting to Word
Produce a standard docx document with selected headings styled as headings and all other levels as body type

Importing from Word
User preference to respect Word headings as corresponding levels with body type as notes or maintained in levels but not marked as Word headings. Personally, I would prefer the latter of these two options.

Type styling: upper and lower case
As discussed in another thread, it seems weird that you can’t style a level as uppercase or sentence case etc

Indenting and position
An option to collapse or minimise indenting for display - on a smaller screen like the iPhone, the current indenting can make the document difficult to use with increasing narrow columns of text.

Selective box ticking for rows
Another user option to have defined levels have a tick box and not others in a simple and straightforward fashion. There might be complex and partial current workarounds but, if it’s too complicated for many users, it’s not working.

Lists and bullet types
Standard sets of bullets and hollow and shaped bullets for lists and nested lists

Multi document window on iOS
This would interest me but maybe not so many others…