Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
When Numbers Matter
When Numbers Matter
The type of content you include determines whether you need numbered lists in your
documents. If you’re writing a how-to manual about fly-fishing, you might have quite a
few numbered steps, explaining important procedures for preparing equipment, finding
the right spot, and setting up for your first cast. If you’re creating a marketing plan with a
timeline and an action sequence, your steps will define a process that builds a bigger
promotions system. Whatever the purpose of your numbered list, you can make sure it’s most
effective in these ways:
Use numbers that it your tone. In an upbeat publication, you might want to use
specialty numbers or a casual font with oversized numbers. In a more serious piece,
you’ll want the numbers you select to carry a more purposeful tone.
Keep steps clear. Most often, numbered steps are used to describe a process.
Conveniently enough, steps can add clarity to a complex procedure. Therefore, don’t
muddy the waters by overburdening a numbered step with too much information.
Include one or two instructions per step and then move on to the next numbered
step.
Remember the white space. Whether you’re working with bulleted or numbered
lists, the white space in your document is as important as the text on the page—it
might be a humbling statement, but it’s true. White space gives your readers’ eyes
a rest, so space list items and avoid crowding steps too closely.
Align by design. As with spacing for bulleted and numbered lists, the alignment of
lists matters. Make sure the indents in the second line of the list item align with the
first character of text, and ensure that all of the lists throughout your document
present a consistent alignment pattern.
Tip
A numbered list communicates a sequence: First, we have the team meeting; next, we
implement the plan; then, we write the report; and finally, we present our results. These
items, in a list, would be numbered because they show a definite order and a logical
process.
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