How To Make Lists in An Essay

Writing an essay students follow strict requirements. The essay has its unique structure and has to be formatted properly. Often, a writer needs to put a list into an essay, and it is crucial to remember that there is a system we have to stick to when adding some. 

The lists help authors to better express their thoughts, make points clearer. There is a thing about lists that is more important than others: it is punctuation. No matter how comprehensive and reasonable your lists are. No matter how crucial using the list is in the certain article. The punctuation rules. 

Regular Lists 

If you need to make a list, simply start a new paragraph and write an introduction sentence. When the sentence ends, we usually put a colon. It shows the beginning of the new part — the list. 

If you are going to add a long list, divide items with semicolons. If the list is short, the usual commas will be enough. 

Dash is also appropriate to start a list in some cases. Though it is less common, it can be used if the list is very short (a couple of items) and if you are following an informal style in your writing. You can use a dash in a sentence like this: There are three rooms in the apartment — a living room, a bedroom, and an office. 

If you are not sure what you have to use — dash or colon — opt for the colon. It is more professional and official. 

Numbered Lists 

We see numbered lists everywhere. It is a great way to highlight the sequence or emphasize something. They are always framed with the introduction sentence and often with a concluding one. Here, you put numbers in front of each item and put periods at the end of each line. 

How to Buy a Book:

  1. Go outside
  2. Drive to a bookstore
  3. Buy a book

If your items don’t need to be put sequentially, then you can use bullets. The lists with numbers, as a rule, are detailed and long, thus they have to be reasonable so the readers don’t suggest you add a list just to make the essay seem longer.

MLA Essay Lists Rules

Usually, MLA essays should include no lists. It is a common rule that is recommended to follow. Yet, there are some hacks to put a list in the MLA essay if you really need it. Here they are. 

Sentence-List

You can use unusual ways to format the list, like writing it as a sentence. The colon will help you to show where the list begins. Semicolons or commas will divide items for you. To make your list more obvious you can lose the “and” before the last item. For example:

Men can’t recognize many colors: (1) terracotta, (2) fuchsia, (3) lavender. 

Block-List 

Such lists are great when there are many items to mention and in the long articles. Here is a nice example of using block-list in an MLA essay:

These three books have predicted the future most accurately:

  1. 1984, by George Orwell
  2. Brave new world, by Aldous Huxley
  3. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury

Formatting the lists might be a little difficult at first, but later on, it turns into a routine and requires no effort from the author’s side. Lists help to organize the material and underline important information, thus it is recommended to use them if needed.