How to Incorporate a List As a Paragraph

While many lists are presented in a bulleted or numbered format, writing lists into a paragraph can allow for better flow to your paper. Lists are often used to introduce a series of topics within one paragraph. Some style guides, such as Modern Language Association or MLA format, prefer lists to be presented in a paragraph rather than in bullet form. Other styles, such as the Chicago Manual of Style, suggest that using bullets appears cumbersome in formal papers. You can follow some guidelines for appropriately incorporating lists into paragraph format.

Sentence Seriation

Introduce the series and then write out the series after a colon. For example: “Use the MLA style guide to find: (1) general guidelines for research papers, including paper formatting; (2) instructions to create in-text citations; and (3) rules for Works Cited pages.” The list appears after the colon and each item in the list is marked with a number in parentheses. While MLA prefers items in lists to include numbers in parentheses, APA style allows you to use lower-case letters for seriation with sentences.

Form Enhances Content

Use parallel structure, keeping all items in the list in the same form. For example, in the list you just read in the first section, you wouldn't write "looking up rules for Works Cited pages” for the third bullet point. Since the first two points start with nouns, the third point should follow suit. Writing, "rules for Works Cited pages" keeps the three list items in the same form.

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