Q. How to do a seriation in an APA paper? Bulleted lists, numbered lists, etc.?

How do you include a list or a series of points in your paper? 


APA has rules on how to present lists to help the reader see the organization of key elements within sections, paragraphs and/or sentences in a paper. When using seriated lists, choose terms or phrases that are similar or in parallel throughout the list.


APA allows for three types of seriated lists:

  • Lettered lists
  • Numbered lists
  • Bulleted lists

 Each is identified and given in the examples below:

Lettered Lists

Use a lettered list when you want to present a series within a sentence.  Each item is preceded with a letter within parentheses.  Note that this form or seriation may not draw as much of the reader's attention as a bulleted or numbered list.  


The study tested three groups of students: (a) children who attended a publicly funded pre-K program, (b) children who attended a privately funded pre-K program, and (c) children who did not attend a pre-K program.


Numbered Lists

Use numbered lists to display complete sentences or paragraphs in a series. 


The survey included the following questions:

1. What pre-reading strategies were covered in the session before the assessment?

2. Did the pre-reading strategy training improve performance on the assessment?

3. What outcomes were achieved through the pre-reading strategy training?

NOTE: Some may interpret items in a numbered list to be presented in order of importance.

Bulleted Lists

In some situations, a numbered list may give the impression that one item in the list is more important than another; a bulleted list may be preferable.  


Note: If you are reproducing, quoting, or paraphrasing a list taken from a source, the citation would appear at the end of the last item.  (APA 6th edition rules included a semicolon after each item in the list and a period following the last item listed.  APA 7th edition has removed all punctuation in the list.) Two variations on how that type of citation might look are below:

Example of a bulleted list presented as phrases:

Elisabeth Kulber-Ross is widely credited with identifying five stages of grief that many people go through when facing a terminal illness:

  • denial
  • anger
  • bargaining
  • depression
  • acceptance (Hebert, Moore & Rooney, 2011, para. 9)


Hebert, Moore, and Rooney (2011) indicate that Elisabeth Kulber-Ross is widely credited with identifying five stages of grief that many people go through when facing a terminal illness:

  • denial
  • anger
  • bargaining
  • depression
  • acceptance (para. 9)

Example of a bulleted list presented as sentences

Follow these steps to successfully search a library database:

  • Develop a list of terms that describe the concepts you want expressed in an article.
  • Combine the search terms with Boolean connectors by using the OR connector to link synonyms and the AND connector to connect concepts.
  • Perform a search and modify the search statement to find desired results.

Example of a bulleted list that contains both phrases and sentences

SMART is a popular method for setting personal goals because well-written goals:

  • Specific: have a clear and high-specific end point.
  • Measurable: can be tracked.
  • Attainable: are realistic.
  • Relevant: are in agreement with the organizational goals.
  • Time-Bound: have a specific timeframe.



Here is a chart from APA that will help you pick which type of seriation to use:

What do you want to do with your series of items? Lettered Numbered Bulleted
Clarify the elements without drawing overmuch attention to the list itself
Visually separate the list from the surrounding text
Show procedural steps
Show a chronology (first, second, third)
Show how items have relative importance (e.g., increasing or decreasing in importance)
Show a general list, with no implied chronology, procedure, order, or differences in importance


American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.). https://doi.org/10.1037/0000165-000

Hebert, K., Moore, H., & Rooney, J. (2011). The nurse advocate in end-of-life care. The Ochsner Journal, (11)4, 325-329.


  • Lists

    Learn how to construct and use lists effectively, including lettered lists, numbered lists, and bulleted lists.

    Academic Writer

    © 2016 American Psychological Association.

  • Last Updated Jun 29, 2020
  • Views 185847
  • Answered By Suzanne Schriefer, Education & General Education Librarian

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