Lists enhance usability by making text more scannable and succinct.

People only read word-by-word online when they are really interested in the content. They usually skim the pages looking for bold or highlighted keywords, meaningful headings, short paragraphs, and scannable lists.

Make use of lists where possible to support how people interact with online content.

List style, punctuation, and mechanics

  • Introduce a list with a heading or with a sentence or fragment ending with a colon.
  • Apply the same font size to individual list items as that of the body text of the given page.
  • Use the bullet character for unordered lists (not a dash or other substitute).
  • Justify lists flush-left with the exception of nested lists which incorporate indentation.
  • Begin each entry in a bulleted or numbered list with a capital letter.
  • Make entries in a list parallel.
  • End each entry with a period if all entries are complete sentences, if one or more of the entries contains both a fragment and a complete sentence that offers additional information, or if the entries all complete the introductory sentence or fragment.

Bulleted lists

Use a bulleted list for an unordered series of concepts, items, or options.

Numbered lists

Use a numbered list for procedures or other sequential lists.

Nested lists

Use a nested list when an individual list element (numbered/bulleted) contains its own set of concepts, items, options, or sequential lists.