Re: Line spacing in bullet lists

Subject: Re: Line spacing in bullet lists
From: Jan Boomsliter <boom -at- CADENCE -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 6 Dec 1994 10:10:59 -0800

I believe you will find that single spacing one-line list items, and
separating all list items by a line space if any item wraps, is a standard
format (it was adopted by IBM, among many, not the other way around).

The issue is readability, tried and true.

The rationale for the IBM standard (compact for single-line lists, uncompact
for lists that contain multiple-line items) is:

- the bullets indicate a new list item, but the user has to be scanning the
left column to notice it. It's nice to provide a way to indicate a new
list item, that goes across the whole page, so if they're scanning down
the middle of the page, they still notice the break without having to
depend on peripheral vision.

- If every list item fits on a single line, then a new line itself signifies
a new list item. This is easy to scan for.

- If some items are multiple lines, then the new line itself does not
necessarily indicate a new list item. So instead, you put an empty line
between each list item, to break them up and set them apart. Otherwise
the list items can "blur" together, and it's harder to tell when you
move from item to item. Try removing the lines from the list in this note,
and you'll see what I mean.

So: I'd stick with the IBM standard. Compact lists (no lines between items)
when each list item fits on a single line. Uncompact lists (one line
between items) when at least one item needs multiple lines.

That way, there's always a clear break between list items.

Note: this is _my_ justification for the standard, off the top of my head.

Hope this helps,

Michael Priestley
mpriestley -at- vnet -dot- ibm -dot- com
Disclaimer: speaking on my own behalf, not IBM's.

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