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Tip 9: Lists in Writing

What are some guidelines for using lists in your writing?

Tips from Gerald J. Alred’s Handbook of Technical Writing, eighth edition include:

  •  Use only comparable items and use parallel structure.
  • List only words, phrases, or short sentences of the same general length.
  • Provide context by introducing each list, typically with a complete sentence followed by a colon.
  • Verify coherence by providing for adequate transition before and after a list.
  • Use bullets, as opposed to numbers, when rank or sequence is not important.
  • Do not overuse lists or include too many items, as in pages or presentation slides that contain only lists.