Order of items in a list

Lists need to be ordered in a meaningful sequence, such as the relative importance of the items or the order in which actions should be done. This is implicit in the rankings of items in numbered lists, and needs also to be considered for items in bulleted lists, even though they are not explicitly ranked.

The most important, relevant or well-known items are sometimes given first:

Well-known impressionist artists include:

  • Monet
  • Renoir
  • Cézanne
  • Degas
  • Manet
  • Bazille
  • Morisot.

Alphabetical ordering makes it easy for readers to locate particular items in the list:

The countries of Central America are:

  • Belize
  • Costa Rica
  • El Salvador
  • Guatemala
  • Honduras
  • Nicaragua
  • Panama.

Specific criteria, such as quantitative ordering (largest to smallest, highest to lowest), may suit some contexts:

Countries in Central America with populations of more than 5 million in 2016 were:

  • Guatemala (>16 million)
  • Honduras (>9 million)
  • El Salvador (>6 million)
  • Nicaragua (>6 million).

User login

... or purchase now

An individual subscription is only A$60 per year

Group and student discounts may apply

Australian manual of scientific style Start communicating effectively