Use Vertical Lists



Vertical lists help to present complex material in manageable chunks, and these two rules should help to keep the lists themselves manageable.

(1) Keeping the listed items in parallel – All the items in the list should fit with the lead-in or ‘platform’ statement.

Incorrect:

To restrict your salt intake, you should:

  • not add salt at the table;


  • use only a little salt in cooking;


  • do not use bicarbonate of soda or baking powder in cooking;


  • avoid salty food like tinned fish, roasted peanuts, olives.

Correct:

To restrict your salt intake, you should only use a little salt in cooking and you should not:

  • add salt at the table;


  • use bicarbonate of soda or baking powder in cooking;


  • eat salty food like tinned fish, roasted peanuts, olives.

(2) Punctuating the listed items – Vertical lists need punctuating as consistently as possible so that readers get used to a pattern and are not distracted by deviations.

Incorrect:

The new job-holder will:

  • develop a set of guidelines for clean wastepaper recycling


  • Introduce green bins for clean wastepaper at appropriate places;


  • monitor compliance with departmental targets.

Correct:

The new job-holder will:

  • develop a set of guidelines for clean wastepaper recycling;


  • introduce green bins for clean wastepaper at appropriate places; and


  • monitor compliance with departmental targets.



Related Links:


Keep Sentences Short.
Use words your readers are likely to understand.
Use only as many words as you really need.
Prefer the active voice.
Use the clearest, liveliest verb to express your thoughts.
Use Vertical Lists to make complex materil understandable.
Keep Electronic Text Communication simple.
Put your points positively when you can.
Reduce cross-references to the minimum.
Try to avoid sexist usage.
Avoidable English Errors are so many.
Avoid fusty first sentences and formula finishes.
Put accurate punctuation at the heart of your writing.
Avoid being enslaved by seven writing myths.
Plan Before You Write.
Organize your material in a simple way.
Consider different ways of setting out your information.
Devote special effort to producing lucid instructions.
Use clear layout to present your plain words.






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