In reStructuredText there are definition-lists which are characterized by a term than an indented paragraph below it.

This is both written and displayed as follows.

Some Term
   The definition for this term.
   this paragraph is expected to be the definition.

Does ORG mode support anything like this?

From what I've seen it only supports ordered/unordered lists, and indentation below text isn't standardized.

  • There are description lists in Org mode. They are basically inspired from the corresponding LaTeX construct, but how they are formatted on export depends on the export backend.
    – NickD
    Oct 13, 2022 at 9:10
  • Thanks! this could be made into an answer.
    – ideasman42
    Oct 14, 2022 at 8:26
  • I added an answer with a few more details too.
    – NickD
    Oct 14, 2022 at 14:25

1 Answer 1


Org mode provides description lists in addition to plain and numbered lists. They look like this (the example is straight from the link):

Important actors in this film are:
- Elijah Wood :: He plays Frodo
- Sean Astin :: He plays Sam, Frodo's friend.  I still remember him
     very well from his role as Mikey Walsh in /The Goonies/.

In the Org mode buffer, the label (the part between the dash and the double colon) is emphasized by making it bold (the face applied to it is org-list-dt, so if you want to change that appearance, that's the face to go after).

They are very much inspired from LaTeX description lists and as you can imagine, if you export to LaTeX, what you get is exactly a LaTeX description list:

\item[{Elijah Wood}] He plays Frodo
\item[{Sean Astin}] He plays Sam, Frodo's friend.  I still remember him
very well from his role as Mikey Walsh in \emph{The Goonies}.

Other export backends do something similar: you'll have to try it on each one to see what they do (if anything).

  • In html dl, it is possible to place multiple dd after one dt, is it possible to do the same for org mode description list?
    – Ynjxsjmh
    Jun 22 at 2:53

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