How To List Things In An Essay Correctly


The standard structure of the essay contains an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. But sometimes, the student has to create a list of things. The student got the impression that the lists can ruin the essay’s design, structure, and grammar. It’s not like that at all.

With the help of text lists, you make your text more readable. There is often a list of subtopics of topics, lists of recommendations, stages of analysis, and subject components. When making a list, the main rule is to adhere to the rules for punctuation and grammar. When compiling lists, it is necessary to adhere to the grammatical style. Have a question about how to do it? Read our article, and you will find out about everything.

Why Add a List of Things to an Essay?

The role of lists in articles is due to the structured presentation of information. The presentation can be both in step-by-step instructions and describing the types, consequences, types, and characteristics. The structure helps the reader to scan text faster and recognize information on the page. There are two types of lists: bulleted and numbered.

What Lists to Use: Bulleted or Numbered?

A numbered list is usually used if the items cannot be reversed if it is essential to indicate their serial number. In other cases – they are marked.

Let’s look at some examples. Let’s say we are compiling a list of the ten most expensive cars globally, and we need to show the place of each of them and designate the winners. In this case, we will use a numbered list – in it, the $ 4,500,000 Lamborghini Veneno Roadster cannot be swapped with the $ 1,150,000 McLaren P1.

Another example. Here’s how to make chili con carne. We use a numbered list as it is essential to indicate the sequence:

  • chop onions and tomatoes, chop the garlic;
  • fry the onion and minced meat;
  • add chili peppers, garlic, spices, tomatoes, add a little water and simmer for half an hour under a closed lid;
  • add beans to the finished dish, let it brew for 5-7 minutes;
  • sprinkle with chopped cilantro before serving.

But the list of ingredients for chili con carne can be made labeled – it doesn’t matter in what order we arrange them.

Add Formatting as You Enter Text

It becomes necessary to reformat it into bulleted or reverse order in working on the numbered text though rare. This can be quickly dealt with, literally, in two clicks. It is enough to take a piece of bulleted or numbered text and change the type of sign by clicking on the corresponding button on the toolbar in Microsoft Office Word.

When you are writing scientific text, it is worth using only one of the many types of labeled icons when available. So the reader will not lose the idea and the very essence of the presentation, which the author of the work wanted to convey to him. At the end of a particular segment of the list, press the “semicolon” key. Although this pattern only works when marking the numbering enumeration, a period is used when completing each component.

General Rules for the Design of Lists

A list is an excellent way to structure your text. Use numbered and bulleted lists in your essays to visually enrich the text and attract readers. General rules for arranging lists:

  1. Items should be of the same type: they begin uniformly with one part of speech (verb, noun, etc.).
  2. The first words of paragraphs should not be repeated. Replace their synonyms, rephrase.
  3. The introductory phrase preceding the list should describe its contents.
  4. Items in the list should be approximately the same length. Jumping lines look sloppy.
  5. The list should contain more than two items. Otherwise, it will look inharmonious. If you need to make only 2 points, then they should be voluminous.
  6. If the paragraphs consist of several sentences, the first can be highlighted in bold. It is believed that you should not end the essay with a list, as then the essay will look unfinished.

Features of Spelling and Punctuation in Lists

In punctuation, cases, and other linguistic features in the lists, each writer is his law. Whatever is being done! Meanwhile, here too, there are tips and even rules that are the English language norms. Here are the main ones:

  1. Always try to summarize the list with a colon, for example: “Here is the main list of our advantages:” – and then the list begins;.
  2. Use initial forms of the word in your list items — don’t make a phrase like “good product; should be: high-quality, inexpensive, reliable, “better” a good product always has the following features: high quality, etc. “.
  3. If each of the paragraphs consists of no more than one sentence, then at the end of all paragraphs, except for the last one, a semicolon is put, and in the last – a period.
  4. If at least one of the items contains more than one sentence, then dots are put at the end of all items in the list.
  5. If the items on your list are closed with a semicolon, then it is correct to start them with a lowercase letter.
  6. If sentences are made in the form of a list and contain a period initially, then each first word must be started with a capital letter.

How to Highlight Items in a List?

There are several ways to distinguish sentences in lists in an authentic way using graphic symbols. Let’s consider some of them:

  1. Arabic or Roman numeral with a dot.
  2. Arabic numeral with parenthesis.
  3. Capital letter with a dot.
  4. Lowercase letter with parenthesis.
  5. Dash.
  6. Typesetting character (point, square, rhombus, asterisk, etc.).

Do not forget to distinguish between the lists’ different levels, both within the text and in general. If you are using multilevel lists, then it is necessary to distinguish between the following levels:

  • the highest level is occupied by capital letters and roman numerals. They should be used most often;
  • the middle level is occupied by Arabic numerals, after which there is a dot;
  • the lowest level in Arabic numerals followed by parenthesis or a symbol that is also closed by a parenthesis.

What Punctuation Marks Are Placed After Items in the List?

After the items on the list, it is possible to put the following signs of foaming:

  1. A comma if you have written straightforward and short sentences of 1-2 words. There should not be any punctuation marks inside the whole sentence; otherwise, it will already be a complex sentence. You can put a comma if you used a number or letter at the beginning of the list and closed them with a parenthesis. Or another character, which is also closed by a parenthesis.
  2. A semicolon, placed in cases where your sentence is not easy, contains punctuation marks in the sentence itself. You can use a semicolon at the end of the list, provided that you used a number or letter at the beginning of the list and closed them with a parenthesis. If there is a parenthesis at the beginning and you wrote a sentence with a lowercase letter, then at the end, there should be a semicolon.
  3. You can put a period at the end of the list, provided that at the beginning, you write a number or letter and put a period after them. If at the beginning you put a period after the symbol, then at the end, respectively, there should be a period.

A Few Nuances to Keep in Mind

If at the end of an enumeration element, you write the phrase “etc.,” it is not carried out as a separate item but is attached to the previous one. For example:

It would help if you put in your suitcase:

  • clothes for warm and cool seasons;
  • hygiene items;
  • charging for gadgets, etc.

Don’t forget about hanging prepositions. If there is a preposition before the enumeration, it is transferred to the list’s first element.

For example:

I want to visit:

  • in Italy,
  • Spain,
  • Portugal.

Remember to put a full stop at the end of the list.


Lists are very important for every paper. They help to make text readable and more interesting. If you hesitate about the correctness of your lists, ask for editing and formatting help. Our experts are ready to assist you 24/7.