Numbered Lists In An Essay

You've been using lists as part of your essay structure to spice it up or maybe give it a facelift. Well, how's that been working out for you so far? It's popular opinion that lists generally provide your essay a good look and numbering them, makes the experience much better. You'd agree with us when we say; readers are attracted not only to the paper's content but also the structuring of your workup.

We're about to find out some of the fundamental tricks and approaches every writer should employ on how to list things in a essay.

Factually, numbered lists in an essay are quite important when it comes to writing as they highlight the crucial and notable information in the text. The moment your you lay your eyes in a four or five items list between text paragraphs, chances are you'll be attracted to the information captured in that context for it's of great importance and shouldn't be missed. Our minds generally pay more attention to matters of significance once you develop the habit of reading and appreciating the critical information in a text. In addition to, lists as well make it easier for the reader to process the data as they offer great help through simplifying the critical items in a paper. For instance, when it comes to instructions, it is best recommended for the steps to be numbered separately from each other even if in a successive manner. Counting the steps in lists form makes it easier to appreciate the instructions. There's also the issue of spacing in your paper structure; the numbered lists in an essay give more spacing and a good spread paper. Eventually, this will save the text from seeming like solid walls of words.

And just like the case of headings in a text, the different types of lists are well a key feature of professional writing. They come in handy, and in that, they assist the readers with comprehension, remembrance, and a quick review of the crucial takes. In addition, they also help with sequencing when it comes to appreciating the chronology of events. And finally, they even well break the monotony of paragraphs and give the reading a feel of a slight break from the continuous text. And by the crack we don't mean you lessen your concentration, it's only making things easier and friendlier for you as a reader.

In this article, you're to appreciate and master the ways to list things in an essay. You'll go ahead to learn the different approaches, be it MLA numbered list or the others you'll come across.

How to List Things in an Essay

How to list things in a essay is a professional technical feature of writing that all writers are expected to master for the success of their texts. There are specific styles of numbering lists that to be used depending on the context and what the essay calls.

Here are some few tricks on ways to list things in an essay;

  • Use numbered lists highlight the crucial and notable information in the text or to enumerate items in a sequence.
  • While at this, be on the lookout for some key aspects of academic writing that cut across the board in whichever circumstance. These are features like the punctuation, spacing –must be of equal spacing for uniformity, and indentation. There's also the cap style and illustrations.
  • Items in the text are to be listed in parallel phrasing.
  • Before you begin crafting and listing the set items you'd wish to emphasize on. Good practice would be to first introduce the lists by giving some lead in the information that expounds on the purpose of the numbered lists you're about to write. This gets your readers prepared and informed on the context of what is to come. Otherwise, without this, you'd be creating chaos in your text and instead of a better understanding, which is the sole purpose of having numbered lists in your book. Once you go ahead to come up with the file, ensure you stay relevant, logical, and sensible. All the items in the numbered list are of sound grammar and match with the lead-in the information.
  • There is the issue of alternatives whereby writers use or. For instance, you can either call or dial the following numbers for more details. Here you aren't expected to use numbered lists but instead, use bullets for this case. The OR aspect is to be captured in the lead in introductory or transitive information
  • There are particular situations whereby there is some additional information that comes after the item listed. This happens when, as a writer, you'd wish to give some explanatory report on the listed topic or the project might require you to do so. As a professional technical writer, you're to indent the separate material to the parent listed item.
  • It's common practice for most writers to use headings as lead-ins to their numbered lists. However, today, we're here to warn you against such unprofessional practices on how to list things in an essay. State the heading and go ahead and give some transitive information below it that will serve to lead-in the reader on the succeeding numbered lists.
  • Some writers are that extra when it comes to listing items, to the extent of using different types of lists in a single text. Are you chasing a good look for your paper? Well, to inform you, good looking papers are cultivated on consistency and changing the types of lists in your article is doing the opposite. It's recommended for writers to use the same kind of inventories throughout the same text. For instance, you might be writing on how to purchase things easily online with a credit card, and you have to areas within a similar document to write on that. Use the same numbered mla numbered lists to capture the information.
  • There's a more natural way out whenever you'd wish to construct vertical numbered lists. Whereby instead of doing the process manually, you lookup for the styles option in your software to do the work for you. For more information on this, you can check out some of the tutorials available online on how to approach that process effectively. And just like we've done in this article.

Guidelines on Choosing Numbered Lists in an Essay

This was quite a stretch but here's some few we managed to come up that should at least assist you in settling for working options;

The grand guideline on choosing numbered lists in an essay is going use them whenever you're stating items that are in a specific required order. This mainly involves where the writer is listing stepwise instructions. Or even some items that are to be numbered and follow specific orders. For the other cases where you're handling order-free items, you're free to use bullets in your listing.

For the horizontal lists; there are no specific directives as to whether to use numbers as opposed to letters. These are specifics that are subject to the writer's preference so long they fall in between the borders of professional technical features of writing. However, when it comes to the use of alphabetical letters for numbering the lists, then you should stick to lowercase letters. This is done to create some visible contrast with the numbers. Nonetheless, this is no written law on how to make a list in MLA format, and therefore, it doesn't call for strict adherence to that approach. Strive for consistency and logic, for that is what matters the most.

On how to make a list in MLA format, there are horizontal and vertical lists. Now, when it comes to making emphasis on the items being listed, then vertical numbered lists win as they give more focus. Vertical presentations are known to attract the reader's attention more and highlight the importance of the information listed in the items, unlike the horizontal numbered lists. This is crucial information that should be at your fingertips always.

Within individual reports, you can use the in-sentence listing, and the vertical numbered lists for similar situations. For instance, you're tasked with topic overviews for different sections of the project, and it would be best if you use the in-sentence (horizontal numbered lists) or the vertical records for the overview section but don't go ahead to mix them for that specific use.

Format for Numbered Lists

This should help you with applying the specific details on capitalization and other critical aspects of writing that all writers are to master for them to be professional technical writers;

  1. The Horizontal Numbered Lists

The main focus of our article today was numbered lists in an essay. However, we'd have to touch a little bit on in-sentencing for you to appreciate the grand difference between vertical and horizontal menus and how the numbering comes out. Stay with us.

The parallel listing approach uses the following guidelines when formulating the lists. Read on to find out what you didn't know and appreciate the fundamental aspects of in-sentence writing;

  • Colons are to be used the moment you wish to introduce the lists, and this applies to specific cases where a whole sentence comes after. Now what the colon does here is that is placed right in between the punishment and serves to break the monotony of flow and introduce the list. You might be familiar with this approach as it's quite common even from lower school levels, and you might have used it severally in your academic writing.

For instance, we're going to show you the right and wrong way to do it for you to get a better understanding of what's involved;

False; For this assignment, you require: pen, writing paper, and laptop.

Right; For this assignment, you require a pen, writing paper, and laptop.

Are you familiar with parentheses; they are to be used on both the opening and closing the lists item numbers or letters; (a) item (b) item

It's regular to use lowercase Arabic numerals in numbering not unless the assignment states otherwise. Which in this case, the instructor might expect you to use caps regularly.

While at this, be on the lookout for some key aspects of academic writing that cut across the board in whichever circumstance. These are features like the punctuation, spacing –must be of equal spacing for uniformity, and indentation. The spacing between words should be regular and the same across the entire text. Regularity and consistency is something that will be appreciated by many writers.

The horizontal lists are to be placed at the end of sentences and not in between. This is a grand rule you shouldn't forget.

  1. Simple Vertical Lists

What we're going to tell you applies specifically to vertical numbered lists and shouldn't be used on withered bulleted or horizontal lists for the rules apply differently;

This vertical figured lists as we said earlier be it an MLA figured list or the others, you'd have to introduce the list with some information commonly referred to as the lead-ins. It's more of a phrase or clause that enlightens the reader on the listing that is to come. However, the sentence doesn't have to complete for the items to be listed can serve the purpose of completing the penalty for practical grammar. This calls for you as a writer to structure the lead-in in a sentence in such a way as to give room for completion of the sentence by the listed items.

Simple vertical lists are also used whenever you'd wish to list items that are not subject to emphasis and are just listed to ease the reading process. This can be done mostly whenever you'd want to break the monotony of continuous paragraph reading and at least give your readers a slight break.

Punctuation; this is a sensitive area of simple vertical lists writing. Here, a writer is to use punctuation only if some complete sentences or phrases will sum up the sentence that was used as a lead-in to the numbered lists.

The length is another critical aspect; watch out for lists that are too long. For instance, those exceeding eight items, here a good practice would be to collapse them into different files or even better consolidate the many things.

Of note; it's advisable to keep off the use of articles whenever possible from the start of the vertical list items.


You've been a writer all these years, but chances are you've been making some of the mistakes we highlighted in this text. Ways on how to list things in an essay vary depending on the assignment or task in question. At least now you can comfortably approach numbered lists with ease. Use the information we gave you and make the best out of it

What do you still find confusing about numbered lists in an essay?