How to Properly Arrange Lists in an Essay


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If you have ever written at least one essay or paper for your high school, college, or university, you probably know that apart from writing and research skills, they require decent familiarity with formatting standards. Indeed, a grade-A written work should have not only good content but also a nice form. People who do not possess the abilities mentioned above and do not want to learn something new, most often than not search for cheap research paper writing service online to do the work for them. However, proper writing is a very useful skill that may help in many life situations. Therefore, we offer useful tips on some formatting issues to assist you in your home assignments. Below the article here you can find the properly arrange lists in an essay.

When you think about academic writing, you know that it sets high standards for all the possible elements the specific assignment may contain. Whatever the educational level is, you need to stay formal not only in language and style but also in arranging your written work. This concerns everything from font style and color to cover page, structure, paragraph organization, illustrations, appendices, or any other possible additional elements. Here, we would like to discuss such an important issue in any essay as lists.

Why Lists?

Almost any essay or paper that you may need to write will most probably contain some list. Big or small, enumerations of items will penetrate your writings very often. It is not a big deal in the case of simple series of issues like the list of subjects you plan to take next semester. However, when it comes to more complex sets of content, you need to make it comprehensive and well-arranged. Since academic writing has certain strict expectations concerning your format and style, it is important to keep your work organized and structured in every aspect.

A suitable way to provide information to the reader in a comfortable and easy-to-comprehend manner is a list. It may be bulleted or sequenced. The former is marked by bullets of any style while the latter use numbers or letters. The most conventionally used form is a bulleted list. However, if it is important to show the strict order of items, a numbered list should be used. Letters may be applied if you need to discuss the items further. Their usage may facilitate the identification of a particular item.

The technique of using such lists is very useful to emphasize some point in the text and attract the reader’s special attention to it. However, it is important to mind the appropriate punctuation, capitalization, grammar, and overall structure of lists.

Structure of a List

A standard list consists of a sentence that introduces it and the enumeration of items. Both are equally important and must be treated with care. The first component, usually called a carrier sentence or a lead-in, should properly introduce the list and use correct punctuation. The list itself should have a parallel structure and flow logically.


Parallelism of a list presupposes similarity of the items, which means that each bullet (or numbered) point should have the same structure. It may start with the same part of speech, use the same voice or verb tense, or be of the same sentence type. For example, it is wrong to provide one full sentence and two abridged fragments that continue a lead-in in one list.


In a list consisting of sentence segments, each item should logically match the carrier sentence.

Example: The advantages of the proposed research include

  • a cheap method of data collection
  • achievable objectives
  • limited timeframe is sufficient for the experiment.

On the one hand, the parallel structure is observed since all the items start with an adjective and present short phrases instead of long sentences. However, the logic is corrupted since the last item makes an ungrammatical sentence when combined with the lead-in.


If the list consists of full independent sentences, the first word in each of them must be capitalized. In the case of sentence fragments, only lowercase letters are used. No punctuation is put at the end of the carrier sentence in the latter case.


Full sentences used in a list always end with a period. If the items are fragments of a sentence, you can either put semicolons or use no punctuation at all. However, in any of the three cases, a period is put at the end of the last item.

A Carrier Sentence

Conventionally, lists are introduced with a colon. However, in bullet lists, it depends on the structure of the lead-in sentence. If it is incomplete (it is incorrect and misunderstood without some continuation), do not put any punctuation mark before the list. If it resembles the main clause that can function as a stand-alone sentence, put a colon at the end of it.


As you can see, several options are available while formatting your lists. However, you should be consistent in your choices. If the paper contains several bulleted lists, make sure that all of them are arranged similarly.

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