Why Lists Are Very Important In Technical Writing


When I started writing, I had no idea what technical writing was about. I wasn’t aware of the skills I needed nor the importance of shaping my work as a good technical writer. I thought it was just writing what I knew, putting in my thoughts about what I’ve learned.

In the process of writing and learning, I realized it takes more than a sound understanding of English grammar to become a skilled technical writer. I needed to know how to modify my work so that it is readable, concise, and easily understandable because technical writing is all about breaking down complex information.

The paragraph below explains how to work with lists and why they are important.

In this article, I chose to talk about lists because I neglected them a lot in my early stages of technical writing. I had no idea how important they were and they could save me from extra work. They’re also very helpful in the explanation of specific information.

How to work with lists and their importance

When determining how to modify any text containing more than one sentence, you first need to ask yourself whether or not it will require a list. A list can help convey your content with greater clarity and precision, allowing the reader to skim the text to understand the essential item.

Types of lists

There are basically 3 types of lists that dominate technical writing:

  1. Bulleted lists
  2. Numbered lists
  3. Nested lists

1.Bulleted Lists:

Bulleted lists are the most commonly used kind of list. They are effective when;

  • You want to emphasize two or more items
  • You can place the items in any order(no particular order is required)
  • You want to add white space to your document to enhance readability.

2.Numbered Lists:

Numbered lists are mostly used when the order of the listed items is important and ideas must be expressed in chronological order. For example, use a numbered list when you must enumerate a series of steps in instructions, or when you are introducing ideas that will be discussed in a certain order.

Sample Numbered List:

  1. Check formatting for readability
  2. Review content to ensure the document contains all necessary information
  3. Edit the style and structure to ensure ideas are clearly and correctly expressed in a formally precise manner
  4. Proofread for grammar, spelling, punctuation, and usage errors.

3.Nested Lists:

A nested list is a list-within-a list or a list with sub-listed items. A nested list can be useful for avoiding overly long bulleted lists by categorizing items into sub-lists.

Sample Nested List:

  • Hot beverage containers:
  • Coffee mugs
  • Latte bowls
  • Travel mugs
  • Cold beverage containers:
  • Water glasses
  • Red wine glasses
  • Beer glasses.These are simply the most common kinds of lists, and ones you should be able to identify and use effectively in your technical writing assignments to enhance readability.


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For those of you new to technical writing

Molly Vanessa

Molly Vanessa

Frontend web developer.
Technical writer. Currently learning JavaScript https://molly.hashnode.dev/