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This help page explains how to create and edit lists on the English Wikipedia.


List basics
There are three types of lists: ordered lists, unordered lists, and definition lists. In the following sections, various list types are used for different examples, but other list types will generally give corresponding results.


Paragraphs and other breaks
All of the techniques described in this section can be used with each other and with any type of list, at any list level.


Paragraphs inside list items
For simplicity, list items in pure wiki markup cannot be more complex than a basic paragraph. A line break in the wikimarkup of a list item will end not just the item but the entire list, and reset the counter on ordered lists. Separating unordered list items with blank lines may look approximately normal on-screen, but it creates many separate one-item lists, which is a problem for people using and is prohibited by , and is also problematic for machine analysis of the article, and for reuse of Wikipedia content more generally.

Paragraphs can be created inside list items by using the HTML (paragraph) element around the second and subsequent paragraphs, :

Do not use as a substitute for ; they have different and are not interchangeable.

For code readability (the improvement is more apparent when the paragraphs are long, rather than with short examples like these), line-breaks may be created with HTML comments, <!-- ... -->, that begin on one line against the end of that line's code and end on another line, against the beginning of that line's code:

This technique can be used with the other examples below.


Line breaks inside list items
Use a single for a non-paragraph line break, e.g. where using a nested list is not desired because sub-items are already preceded by numbers:


Nested blocks inside list items
Similar HTML usage can provide for block quotations within list items:

Another case like this is small nested code blocks:

Here, linebreaks still cannot occur inside the list item, even if they are inside , and the HTML comment trick does not work with , which is why this technique is only suitable for code examples.


Continuing a list item after a sub-item
In HTML, a list item may contain several sublists, not necessarily adjacent; thus there may be parts of the list item not only before the first sublist, but also between sublists, and after the last one.

In wikimarkup, unfortunately, sublists follow the same rules as sections of a page: the only possible part of the list item not in sublists is before the first sublist.

In the case of an unnumbered first-level list in wikimarkup, this limitation can be somewhat worked around by splitting the list into multiple lists; indented text between the partial lists may visually serve as part of a list item after a sublist. However, many readers find this confusing, as the indentation makes it look more like a continuation of the last sublist item. Also, this technique may give, depending on CSS, a blank line before and after each list, in which case, for uniformity, every first-level list item could be made a separate list, with further complicates the code. For complex lists like this, it is recommended to use the HTML technique, and to replace instances of the "quick and dirty" wikimarkup version with the HTML version.

Numbered lists illustrate that what should look like one list may, for the software, consist of multiple, nested lists. Unnumbered lists give a corresponding result, except that the problem of restarting with 1 is not applicable.

One level deeper, with a sublist item continuing after a sub-sublist, one gets even more blank lines; however, the continuation of the first-level list is not affected:

See also and .


Spacing between items
For an ordered list with items that are more than one paragraph long, using the HTML comment trick mentioned above to add a blank line between items may be necessary to avoid editor confusion. This is done with a commented-out line:
# First item<!--
                                                -->
# Second item
     
This doesn't produce unwanted visible spacing or bad list code in the rendered page like adding a plain blank line would:
  1. First item
  2. Second item
The comment must begin on the same line on which the preceding item ends, and the comment must end on its own line. Wrong:
# First item
<!--
                                                -->
# Second item
     
Wrong:
# First item
<!--
     

-->#Second item
     

If the has a readability problem due to complex list items, or for some other reason space is desired between list items, simply add a pair of explicit HTML line-breaks to the end of the list items:

# Item 1* Lists are easy to do:
** start every line
* with a star
** more stars mean
*** deeper levels
# Item 2* A newline
* in a list
marks the end of the list. Of course
* you can
* start again.
     
gives
  1. Item 1

  2. Item 2

Compare the version without the spacing:

  1. Item 1
  2. Item 2


Changing the list type
The list type (which type of marker appears before the list item) can be changed in CSS by setting the list-style-type property:


Extra indentation of lists
In a numbered list in a large font, some browsers do not show more than two digits, unless extra indentation is applied (if there are multiple columns: for each column). This is fixed by increasing the default indentation of 3.2em by 2em more, and it can be done in multiple ways:

When using explicit HTML list items, use an explicit CSS margin spacing of 4em to double the default 2em spacing. Though not the simplest, this is the and most versatile method, as it does not rely on any peculiarities of the parser, nor on abusing any for purely visual purposes. It allows starting with a number other than 1 (see below). It is the recommended method for complex lists.

The parser translates an ordered list, , without any list items, (in this case, it contains just another ) into a with a style="margin-left: 2em;", causing indentation of the contents. This is a common, versatile but potentially confusing method, as it allows starting with a number other than 1 (see below). It is , unnecessarily complex and may be confusing to other editors, because it looks like invalid HTML. The parser corrects it on-the-fly, but only MediaWiki experts know this, with the result that other editors may try to "correct" it by removing what looks like redundant code.

Just put an explicit HTML around wiki-markup list items. It functions the same as the previous example with the content of the "ordered list without any list items", which itself is an ordered list, expressed with # codes; the HTML produced, and hence the rendering, is the same. This is the simplest method, and recommended when starting a simple list with number 1.

A list of one or more lines starting with a colon creates a definition list without definition terms, and with the items as definition descriptions, hence indented. However, if the colons are in front of the codes "*" or "#" of an unordered or ordered list, the list is treated as one definition description, so the whole list is indented. : This technique produces poorly formed (though technically ) markup and abuses the purpose of definition lists for a purely visual effect, and is thus a usability and accessibility problem. It will work in a hurry, but should be replaced with cleaner code, using one of the techniques described above.

The page demonstrates that several of these methods show all digits of 3-digit numbers.


Specifying a starting value
Specifying a starting value is only possible with HTML syntax by using the start and value attributes.

Or:

Only the list item whose value is being set needs to be written in HTML, the rest of the list may use wiki syntax:

This does not work inside .


Comparison with a table
Apart from providing automatic numbering, the numbered list also aligns the contents of the items, comparable with using table syntax:
     
Amsterdam
Rotterdam
The Hague
gives
Amsterdam
Rotterdam
The Hague

This non-automatic numbering has the advantage that if a text refers to the numbers, insertion or deletion of an item does not disturb the correspondence.


Multi-column bulleted list
     
  • 1
  • 2
| valign="top"
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
gives:
  • 1
  • 2
| valign="top"
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5


Multi-column numbered list
Specifying a starting value is useful for a numbered list with multiple columns, to avoid restarting from one in each column. As mentioned above, this is only possible with HTML-syntax (for the first column either wiki-syntax or HTML-syntax can be used).

In combination with the extra indentation explained in the previous section:

     
    1. a
    2. bb
    3. ccc
    1. ddd
    2. ee
    3. f

gives

    1. a
    2. bb
    3. ccc
    1. ddd
    2. ee
    3. f

Using the computation of the starting values can be automated, and only the first starting value and the number of items in each column except the last has to be specified. Adding an item to, or removing an item from a column requires adjusting only one number, the number of items in that column, instead of changing the starting numbers for all subsequent columns.


     

gives


     

gives


     

gives


     

gives

Note that the starting values of each column (125, 3, 2) have no effect when the disc list type is used.


Streamlined style or horizontal style
It is also possible to present short lists using very basic formatting, such as:

# Numbered lists are good
## very organized
## easy to follow example 1, example 2, example 3
     

Title of list: example 1, example 2, example 3

This style requires less space on the page, and is preferred if there are only a few entries in the list, it can be read easily, and a direct edit point is not required. The list items should start with a lowercase letter unless they are proper nouns.


Tables
A one-column table is very similar to a list, but it allows sorting. If the wikitext itself is already sorted with the same sortkey, this advantage does not apply. A multiple-column table allows sorting on any column.

See also .


Manipulating lists with user stylesheets
Virtual anything about how lists are displayed can be customized at the user end with . Some of the more useful tweaks are outline below.


Extra indentation
As noted above, in a numbered list in a large font, some browsers do not show more than two digits, unless extra indentation is applied (if there are multiple columns: for each column). While this should be fixed in the wikicode, user stylesheet CSS can work around the problem for as long as it is present, by increasing the default indentation of 3.2em by 2em more:
ol { margin-left: 5.2em;}
     


Changing unordered lists to ordered ones
With the following CSS:
ul { list-style: decimal; }
     
unordered lists are changed to ordered ones. This applies (as far as the CSS selector does not restrict this) to all ul-lists in the HTML source code:
  • those produced with *
  • those with Definition lists: ; Term : Definition or ; Term : Definition Can be used for more than terms and definitions. in the wikitext
  • those produced by the system

Since each special page, like other pages, has a class based on the pagename, one can separately specify for each type whether the lists should be ordered, see and .

However, it does not seem possible to make all page history lists ordered (unless one makes all lists ordered), because the class name is based on the page for which the history is viewed.


See also
  • : creates a list with list code only at the start and end, not per item; allows easy change of list type; sorts list


Wikipedia-specific help
  • — For suggested styles of lists.''
  • .
  • and — Dots and bullets for horizontal link lists, such as in , which look like lists, but do not use HTML list mark-up.
    • — for a more accessible and semantically more correct way of marking up such lists.
  • — Covers among other things how to properly handle the line wrapping in horizontal link lists.
  • — to ask questions about using lists in articles if you weren't able to find the information you need on this help page.

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