Using Lists and Alerts in Documents

In past newsletters, we covered Syntax, Vocabulary, Complexity, Numbers, Format, Style, Organization, and Conditionsfrom our list of writing concepts. This month we finish with Lists and Alerts.

Present a sequence of multiple items in a list to help the reader organize, understand, and remember the information. Use formatted lists with bulleted or numbered items. Use overview headings to identify the groups of items.


You may need to alert the reader to potential hazards.
  • Use WARNINGS to identify situations that concern personal safety
  • Use Cautions for conditions that may damage equipment
  • Use Notes to call attention to important information

Present alerts in a unique and consistent format for quick recognition. Place them on the same page, and immediately before, the relevant text. Use the active voice to directly communicate with the reader, but do not hide actions in warnings and cautions. Keep the actions separate.