LaTeX: itemize bullet characters

Itemized lists in LaTeX automatically use a closed bullet point; first-level nested lists use dashes, followed by open bullets, etc. But what if you want to use different bullet characters?

First, specify which nested layer you want to change. {labelitemi} refers to the outermost nested list, followed by {labelitemii}, and so on. Then specify the character you want to use with its LaTeX command.

Here’s how to specify a closed bullet (the LaTeX default) in the outermost nested list:
item First item in the list
item Second item
item and so on

Any character can be used as a bullet character by writing its command in place of bullet. Some characters that might be particularly useful:

circ — An open circle
cdot — A centered dot
star — A five-pointed star
ast — A centered asterisk
rightarrow — A short right-pointing arrow
diamondsuit — An open diamond

For a full list of character commands, see Hypertext Help with LaTeX: Binary and relational operators


  1. Prue · September 6, 2008

    Thanks for the helpful, concise pointers. The line “begin{itemize}{labelitemi}{$bullet$}” is not quite right. What worked for me, adapting the above, is

    item …


  2. Khan · January 5, 2009

    Thanks for solving my problem.


  3. Chi · April 5, 2009

    Thanks for the comment. It helps me a lot!

  4. Naeem · June 19, 2009

    I am a newbie in latex.
    Anyone of you could guide me how to increase the size of bullet… like normally in itemize tags we get small bullet. I want to increase the size of that bullet.
    I guess it should be possible but don’t know How…


  5. Hugo · June 22, 2009

    Prue’s correction on the original code works like a charm.

    thanks, guys!

  6. lunarbof · July 29, 2009

    What is nice with Prue’s modification is that you can take the
    out of the begin{itemize}.

    That way, the new display list settings affect all the itemize list in the document.

    Thanks !

  7. afdk · November 22, 2009

    it’s possible the original code didn’t work because he forgot the ” before labelitemi

  8. afdk · November 22, 2009

    disregard that last comment

  9. Jugurtha · May 1, 2010

    thank you for your publication, thinks to you, my problem is now solved.
    have a good day.

  10. M · August 31, 2010

    I have problem for using
    /circ or /start or … .just I can use /item and its default is black circle .

    what I must do for attain best and beauty bullet ?

  11. lili · October 27, 2010

    good job. it works

  12. rodrigo · March 23, 2012

    how can i make an item list under an item of another list?
    i have an item that i want to have explained in several characteristics in another indented bullet list.

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