Using Lists

Lists can make content much quicker to find and understand.

However, as you can see by the example below, making a list is not an instant fix.

  • Simply placing ideas into a list does not necessarily make the information easier to access.
  • Longer sentences, preceded by bullet points (or numbers) are not much better than regular text.

Bullets or numbers?

  • Bullets for a series of similar concepts.
  • Numbers for steps in a process.

Keep it short

Users scan lists.  They are seeking quick comprehension.  The more prose you use, the longer it takes them to process the information.

Keep it consistent

Inconsistent construction can make the list difficult to grasp without a thorough read.  

This list is not easy to scan:

  1. Do you want bullets or numbers?
  2. Having decided on your list items...
  3. In the toolbar, choose the appropriate list type
  4. When writing the list, hit return for a new item
  5. At the end, hit return twice.

There are two common techniques for making points consistent: verbs and keywords


Starting each item with a verb ensures consistency:

  1. Choose bullets or numbers
  2. Decide on list items
  3. Select the list type in the toolbar
  4. "Enter" at the end of each item
  5. "Enter" twice at the end of the list


Alternatively, it may be more useful to begin each item with a relevant word.

  1. Preparation: Bullets or numbers?
  2. Composition: Come up with your list items.
  3. Formatting: Select the list type in the toolbar.
  4. Content entry: Use the return key at the end of each item.
  5. Finish: Hit the return key twice at the end of the list.


Using bold text for emphasis.  

To draw attention to the list, bold the keyword or verb at the start of each item. (See Keywords above.)  

Selecting a key phrase adds emphasis to important detail within the list.  (See Bullets or numbers above.)