RE: Nested bullets - how many levels deep do you go?

Subject: RE: Nested bullets - how many levels deep do you go?
From: "Michael West" <mbwest -at- bigpond -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Sun, 15 Feb 2009 22:04:48 +1100

> From: "Downing, David" <DavidDowning -at- users -dot- com>
> We routinely use second-level nested bullets in our documentation, but
> our policy is to never take it beyond a second level. However, there
> have been times when I saw a need to go to a third level. (I just ran
> into one.) I've been told that when that happens, I need to figure out
> some way of leveling out the hierarchy so I can keep the list to two
> nesting levels. (I think one of my editors once suggested that if I felt
> the need to go to a third level or beyond, I was overthinking.) So I was
> wondering what other folk here do. Do you ever go beyond a second level,
> or do you avoid any nesting at all?
>
[MW>]

It's well nigh impossible to give an intelligent answer to that question
without knowing what the list is intended to accomplish. What is it a list
OF?

My first instinct is to suggest that anything that requires three levels is
too complex to be a "list". An exception might be mage if the list is
actually not a list but a sort of introductory structured outline of some
subject matter that you are preparing to cover in more detail.

If you really intend this thing to be a "list", then putting it in a
multi-level structure is too much like asking your readers to do your work
for you. It's actually several lists that you are trying to bundle into one.
That's asking a lot of your readers.

Your job as a writer is to communicate this "list" (or these lists) in
easily assimilated terms. It doesn't sound like that's what's happening.

I hope I'm wrong.

--
Mike West

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