Bulleted & Numbered Lists

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Summary: Presenting a “wall of text” in a document or Web site can discourage reading. Instead, present key concepts as bulleted lists where possible.

Bulleted lists

  • Allow writers to present key terms and concepts, while avoiding blocks of text..
  • Organize information into meaningful chunks.
  • Invite meaningful hyperlinking, allowing the user to explore additional information.
  • Provide a break in the document flow, encouraging readers to stick with the content and helping to prevent burnout or fatigue resulting from the constant untangling of dense or complex paragraphs.

Additionally,

  • Numbered lists encourage sequencing necessary for conveying processes and procedures.

 

Visual users can quickly and easily scan a document for bulleted lists. Similarly, assistive technology users can identify lists in a document, navigate to them, and gain information regarding hierarchies (nesting) but only when lists are created correctly.

 

Do:

  • Use your software’s built-in list function, which should look something like this  or this .
  • Use a bulleted list to show a list of related items.
  • Use a numbered list to show steps in a process or the number of part in a whole.
  • Use a small amount of space between each line. Look for this “space after paragraph” option in your word processing and presentation software. Here’s where the function is located in Google Docs, Microsoft Word, and Microsoft PowerPoint:
Google Docs MS Word MS Powerpoint

Choose format > line spacing > add space after paragraph

Change the After value to 4 and see how it looks

Right click on the images above to enlarge in a new tab.

Don’t:

  • Create lists manually by simply inserting numbers, characters, images or other symbols before list items.

 For example,

-List item

-List item

-List item

Adaptive technologies cannot identify or convey the existence of a list when created in this fashion.

 

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