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I like a1 / a2 / a3 to be in the same indent level.

Should I use something other than list for this purpose?

* header

  - a1

    *** bb (it's a description for a1)
      content

      - a2
       - a22
      - a3
3
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    I do not think that Emacs will treat *** bb (it's a ... as a subheading of the - a1 list. I think Emacs will treat *** bb (it's a ... as a third-level subheading of * header with a missing second-level subheading of that initial header. Let me suggest using a + sign for a main list heading and a - for a sub-list. Sometimes, I even place the words of main list with a + sign in all capitals. I personally do not indent at all -- i.e., I like flush left for everything -- the additional asterisks and change in colors is sufficient to meet my needs. – lawlist Sep 12 '20 at 1:41
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    @lawlist The value of org-heading-regexp is "^\\(\\*+\\)\\(?: +\\(.*?\\)\\)?[ ]*$". I.e., the stars for the heading must start at the beginning of line. – Tobias Sep 12 '20 at 4:55
  • You can indent/outdent manually, or you can enter new entries in the list with M-RET which effectively runs org-insert-item when you type it at the end of a list item. Once you are in a deeper level, I don't know of any slick way to outdent to a shallower level: I do it manually. – NickD Sep 14 '20 at 19:25

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