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Creating lists in Word

From sequencing instructions to grouping similar objects, lists help make your writing clearer in many ways. They’re especially handy when a document contains a large, solid block of text that contains several lists. Breaking up large blocks of text and adding white space makes a document easier to scan and easier to read.

To effectively add lists to documents, use preset list styles. When you do, every list looks consistent with the next, and changing the look of one list lets you transfer the changes you make to all the other lists you tag with the same style.

Choose a list type

Two list types will suffice for just about any list you want to create:

  • List Bullet
  • List Number

You might have expected “bulleted lists” and “numbered lists” instead of what was written above, but the two items correspond to common style names in Microsoft Word, as well as many other word-processing programs.

Context may prescribe your choice of list type, but here are a few pointers you can use to decide on the type:

Use List Bullet when you create a short list of items in which the sequence doesn’t matter.

Use List Number when you create:

  • a list of items (like instructions) in which the sequence of the items matters to the reader.
  • a long list in which readers may need to indicate specific items.