Enumeration question?

Subject: Enumeration question?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, David Dubin <David -dot- Dubin -at- sage -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 13 Jun 2006 15:26:39 -0400

David Dubin wondered: <<... whether to use a period after an enumerative level. In documenting processes, we use numbers to show steps. In the example below, I show two sets of processes; one with numbers and periods, the other with numbers without periods. Does anyone have any research or can point me to any research that would indicate if using a period with the enumerative symbol is better (or worse) than not using a period?>>

No research, and even if there were, I strongly doubt there'd be any _practically_ significant difference between the two styles. If you're a fan of open punctuation, I imagine that dropping the period would be more consistent with the rest of your style, and that might argue in favor of the nonperiodic <g> style.

That being said, I don't recall ever seeing a list number without a trailing period (or closing bracket). In fact, the period is so common that I consider it the default style, and anything the differs from that default would strike me as odd. Since there's much to be said for adhering to standard conventions and thereby avoiding any shocks to the delicate constitutions of our readers <g>, the better question to ask is whether there's anything to be gained from deleting the period. I can't think of any gain, and that being the case, my vote is to retain the period.

Want something to back that up? For a less-than-credible authority, I note that none of Microsoft Word's default numbering styles lacks either a period or bracket. (Word X on the Mac; later versions may provide more options.) For a more credible authority, I'd note that Chicago 15 doesn't provide any examples of list numbering that lack a period or closing bracket. Similarly, Sun's _Read me first_ style guide also standardizes on the use of periods.

In fact, I don't recall any style guide that recommends or permits dropping the period _other than in numbered headings_, but I'm sure that with a little persistence you could find one... seems there's a style guide to support pretty much any viewpoint.

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Geoff Hart ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca
(try geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com if you don't get a reply)
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Enumeration question: From: Dubin, David

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