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List basics[edit]

There are three main types of lists. Ordered lists, unordered lists, and definition lists. In the following sections, ordered lists are used for examples. Unordered lists would give corresponding results.

wikitext rendering
* Lists are easy to do:
** start every line
* with a star
** more stars mean
*** deeper levels
  • Lists are easy to do:
    • start every line
  • with a star
    • more stars mean
      • deeper levels
*A newline
*in a list  
marks the end of the list.
Of course
*you can
*start again.
  • A newline
  • in a list

marks the end of the list. Of course

  • you can
  • start again.
# Numbered lists are good
## very organized
## easy to follow
  1. Numbered lists are good
    1. very organized
    2. easy to follow
* You can also
**break lines
**like this
  • You can also
    • break lines
    • like this
; Definition lists
; item : definition
; semicolon plus term
: colon plus definition
Definition lists
semicolon plus term
colon plus definition
* Or create mixed lists
*# and nest them
*#* like this
*#*; definitions
*#*: work:
*#*; apple
*#*; banana
*#*: fruits
  • Or create mixed lists
    1. and nest them
      • like this

Paragraphs in lists[edit]

For simplicity, list items in wiki markup cannot be longer than a paragraph. A following blank line will end the list and reset the counter on ordered lists. Separating unordered list items usually has no noticable effects.

Paragraphs can be forced in lists by using HTML tags. Two line break symbols, <br><br>, will create the desired effect. So will enclosing all but the first paragraph with <p>...</p>

For a list with items of more than one paragraph long, adding a blank line between items may be necessary to avoid confusion.

Continuing a list item after a sub-item[edit]

In HTML, a list item may contain several sublists, not necessarily adjacent; thus there may be parts of the list item not only before the first sublist, but also between sublists, and after the last one; however, in wiki-syntax, sublists follow the same rules as sections of a page: the only possible part of the list item not in sublists is before the first sublist.

In the case of an unnumbered first-level list in wikitext code this limitation can be overcome by splitting the list into multiple lists; indented text between the partial lists may visually serve as part of a list item after a sublist; however, this may give, depending on CSS, a blank line before and after each list, in which case, for uniformity, every first-level list item could be made a separate list.

Numbered lists illustrate that what should look like one list may, for the software, consist of multiple lists; unnumbered lists give a corresponding result, except that the problem of restarting with 1 is not applicable.

  <li>list item A1
      <li>list item B1</li>
      <li>list item B2</li>
    </ol>continuing list item A1
  <li>list item A2</li>
  1. list item A1
    1. list item B1
    2. list item B2
    continuing list item A1
  2. list item A2
#list item A1
##list item B1
##list item B2
#:continuing list item A1
#list item A2
  1. list item A1
    1. list item B1
    2. list item B2
    continuing list item A1
  2. list item A2

One level deeper, with a sublist item continuing after a sub-sublist, one gets even more blank lines; however, the continuation of the first-level list is not affected:

#list item A1
##list item B1
###list item C1
##:continuing list item B1
##list item B2
#list item A2


  1. list item A1
    1. list item B1
      1. list item C1
      continuing list item B1
    2. list item B2
  2. list item A2

Extra indentation of lists[edit]

In a numbered list in a large font, some browsers do not show more than two digits, unless extra indentation is applied (if there are multiple columns: for each column). This can be done with CSS:

ol { margin-left: 2cm}

or alternatively, like below.

wikitext rendering comments
  1. abc
  2. def
  3. ghi
A list of one or more lines starting with a colon creates a definition list without definition terms, and with the items as definition descriptions, hence indented. However, if the colons are in front of the codes "*" or "#" of an unordered or ordered list, the list is treated as one definition description, so the whole list is indented.

    1. abc
    2. def
    3. ghi
MediaWiki translates an unordered list (ul) without any list items (li) into a div with a style="margin-left: 2em", causing indentation of the contents. This is the most versatile method, as it allows starting with a number other than 1, see below.

    1. abc
    2. def
    3. ghi
Like above, with the content of the "unordered list without any list items", which itself is an ordered list, expressed with # codes. The HTML produced, and hence the rendering, is the same. This is the recommended method when not starting with a number other than 1.

Specifying a starting value[edit]

Specifying a starting value is only possible with HTML syntax. (W3C has deprecated the start and value attributes as used below in HTML 4.01 and XHTML 1.0. But as of 2007, no popular web browsers implement CSS counters, which were to replace these attributes.)

<ol start="9">
<li>The Hague</li>


  1. Amsterdam
  2. Rotterdam
  3. The Hague


<li value="9">Amsterdam</li>
<li value="8">Rotterdam</li>
<li value="7">The Hague</li>


  1. Amsterdam
  2. Rotterdam
  3. The Hague

Comparison with a table[edit]

Apart from providing automatic numbering, the numbered list also aligns the contents of the items, comparable with using table syntax:

| align=right |  9.||Amsterdam
| align=right | 10.||Rotterdam
| align=right | 11.||The Hague


9. Amsterdam
10. Rotterdam
11. The Hague

This non-automatic numbering has the advantage that if a text refers to the numbers, insertion or deletion of an item does not disturb the correspondence.

Multi-column bulleted list[edit]



  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4

Multi-column numbered list[edit]

Specifying a starting value is useful for a numbered list with multiple columns, to avoid restarting from one in each column. As mentioned above, this is only possible with HTML-syntax (for the first column either wiki-syntax or HTML-syntax can be used).

In combination with the extra indentation explained in the previous section:

{| valign="top"
|<ul><ol start="125"><li>a<li>bb<li>ccc</ol></ul>
|<ul><ol start="128"><li>ddd<li>ee<li>f</ol></ul>


    1. a
    2. bb
    3. ccc
    1. ddd
    2. ee
    3. f

Streamlined style or horizontal style[edit]

It is also possible to present short lists using very basic formatting, such as:

''Title of list:'' example 1, example 2, example 3

Title of list: example 1, example 2, example 3

This style requires less space on the page, and is preferred if there are only a few entries in the list, it can be read easily, and a direct edit point is not required. The list items should start with a lowercase letter unless they are proper nouns.


A one-column table is very similar to a list, but it allows sorting. If the wikitext itself is already sorted with the same sortkey, this advantage does not apply. A multiple-column table allows sorting on any column.

See also wp:When to use tables.

Changing unordered lists to ordered ones[edit]

With the CSS

ul { list-style: decimal }

unordered lists are changed to ordered ones. This applies (as far as the CSS selector does not restrict this) to all ul-lists in the HTML source code:

  • those produced with *
  • those with <ul> in the wikitext
  • those produced by the system

Since each special page, like other pages, has a class based on the pagename, one can separately specify for each type whether the lists should be ordered. Some of the lists created by the system have special ids, e.g. with the CSS

#pagehistory { list-style: decimal; }

history lists will be ordered.

See also[edit]