Creating Legal List Numbering only using CSS

If you want to create lists with legal style numbering, here's a way to do it. It's quick, clean, and tidy. It results in lists that automatically do this sort of thing:

1. Section

1.1 Clause

   1.1.1 Sub-Clause Sub-Sub-Clause

And here's some sample HTML Code:

    <title>Sample of Legal List using CSS</title>
    <link type="text/css" rel="stylesheet" href="./legal-lists.css" />
  <body id="legal-list">
    <h1>Sample of Legal List Numbering using CSS</h1>
    <h2>Section One</h2>
      <li>Clause One</li>
      <li>Clause Two
          <li>Clause Two sub One</li>
          <li>Clause Two sub Two</li>
          <li>Clause Two sub Three</li>
      <li>Clause Three</li>
    <h2>Section Two</h2>
      <li>Clause One</li>
      <li>Clause Two</li>
      <li>Clause Three
	  <li>Clause Three sub One
              <li>Clause Three sub One sub One </li>
              <li>Clause Three sub One sub Two</li>
              <li>Clause Three sub One sub Three</li>
          <li>Clause Three sub Two</li>
          <li>Clause Three sub Three</li>

The key thing to note with the above content is that the ID "legal-list" is on the "body" tag in this case - that means all ordered lists on this page will be numbered this way. If you want to limit it, just put the ID in the block containing the list you want to number.

The CSS looks like this:

  /* legal list styles */
  #legal-list {
    counter-reset: section;
  #legal-list h2:before {
    counter-increment: section;
    content: counter(section) ". ";
    margin: 0 0.5em 0 0;
  #legal-list ol {
    counter-reset: clause;
    list-style: none outside none;
    text-indent: -2em;
  #legal-list ol li {
    counter-increment: clause;
  #legal-list ol li:before {
    content: counter(section) "." counters(clause, ".") ". ";
    margin: 0 0.5em 0 0;

And here's what it should look like (in this case, I put the id="legal-list" the div block surrounding the list):

To try this, just download the attached files (or copy and paste the blocks above into your own files with the same names) and open the legal-list-sample.html file in your browser.

For a working example of a legal document, see the Terms and Conditions on this site.

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