Redish Chapter 11: Using Lists and Tables

This chapter was interesting, because it identifies the difference between lists and tables and how to apply each. I’ve spent the last couple of months writing policies and procedures for a local VA hospital. Some of the procedures were packed with lists and tables. Not only are they time consuming to create, but they are time consuming to read if not done properly.

Lists are effective when ordering items in steps or separating items for easy identification. In a recent trip to the grocery store, I asked my daughter to text the list to me. The grocery list arrived in a paragraph format, which made it extremely difficult to manage. Why? Because I had to read and reread the entire paragraph each time I needed to refer to it to find the items I needed, and to make sure I didn’t miss anything. By contrast, putting it in a list format makes it easy to identify each item and to ignore those I’ve already picked up or am not near.

Tables are useful for comparing different types of information or answering if/then statements. Left justifying data is generally good advice. There are situations where data in a table should be right justified or centered. In columns with currency, the information lines up better if it is right justified. Centering simple numbers or short text, such as abbreviations, can actually help make a column of data easier to read. If more than one word is used, left justifying is still the best option.

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