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Part 5: Use Lists to Present Information

Lists make it easy to organize and present ideas in an attractive and easy-to-read format.

Lists are easy to read because the white space around each item draws attention to it.

Whenever you have a sentence containing 3, or more ideas or facts, consider replacing it with a list.

Before and after example

Information in sentences often gets lost. For example, "California's largest cities include Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, and Sacramento, Fresno, and Oakland."

The same information presented in list form focuses your reader's attention, i.e., "California's largest cities include:

  • Los Angeles
  • San Francisco
  • San Jose
  • Fresno
  • Oakland

Use bullet lists when the items are equally important. Use numbered lists when presenting information in order of importance or sequence.

List formatting tips

  • Emphasis. Consider using bold-faced type for the first word or phrase to attract your readers' eyes.
  • Length. Avoid lists containing more than 4 or 5 items.
  • Limit. Be concise. Limit each item to 2 lines.
  • Order Organize items of equal importance in alphabetical order.
  • PunctuationOnly add periods after each item if you're using full sentences.

The more you work with lists, the more you'll appreciate their versatility and ability to organize and present your ideas as efficiently as possible.

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