SimpleQuiz › A List › Conclusion

This was another easy one — but as expected the discussion got more interesting as additional related questions were asked. The question itself is becoming secondary to the conversation happening alongside.

Notable Comments

Overwhelmingly, it was D all the way. I guess I sort of gave it away, orginally titling it “Part II: Unordered Lists”. We’ve learned some good stuff here though.

web:

Yeah, I’d go with D as well, but to be noted is the lack of KitKats in your list.

Dully noted.

Michael Z.:

There are a few situations where code like A could be used, though. Marking up a poem, for example.

Which prompted others to ask about using pre or br / to markup a poem. Tough to call,
and even the W3C uses a poem as an example of both methods.

Folkert:

Did anyone ever fall into the trap of identifying every bit of content on a page as a list, ordered and unordered? I was that close to declaring the bodytext on a page as an inline ordered list.

In fact, Doug Bowman pointed me to Tantek Çelik’s move to using a series of lists
to handle most of his weblog’s structure.

Also certainly worth a look again, is Doug’s Overused Lists? article — where he explores the differences between using pipe-delimited vs. an unordered list for navigation. The pipe-delimited method could’ve easily been option E in this quiz question, and may have divided the results a bit.

Michael Z.

I think even one item can constitute a list.

And according to the W3C, this is true.

Paul G.:

You’d have to change the stylesheet and the markup if you wanted to do something as simple as add a border around your list.

Exactly. Using a ul makes it easier to change styles with CSS.

Matt Haughey poses some questions that are far more intriguing than the quiz itself:

When should someone put something in a list instead of using line breaks? How to do screenreaders interpret lists?

To which Patrick H. Lauke responds with perhaps the most insightful information of the discussion:

… yes, they do treat lists differently from normal text broken up by line breaks. JAWS, for instance, announces that it’s an “unordered list with 5 items”. I imagine other screenreaders will provide similar information.

That to me, is a huge reason for using lists when in doubt. And after being asked whether the declaration of how many list items there are would be a hinderance to blind users, Patrick went on to offer this:

… they will know how many links there are (i.e. whether it’s only 5 items or 50), which will influence how they will choose to navigate the site.

I realize I could go on quoting everything else — because there are other great points raised as a result of another seemingly ELEMENTary (sorry) question.

Summary

A simple list of items should most likely be structured with a ul element. Why is the better way?

  • D is more easily styled with CSS without having to modify the markup.
  • Using a ul to markup lists makes it easier for screenreader users to hear how many items are contained.
  • An unordered list may be better represented in a small screen such as a phone or PDA — where unintentional line-wrapping may occurr.

4 Comments

  1. Great stuff, Dan. I look forward to the next quiz!

  2. web says:

    More KitKats, just remember more KitKats.
    Very interesting stuff.
    Do you take possible quiz questions via Email? I’m sure you already recieved a ton.
    until next week.

  3. Dan says:

    web – Certainly send any questions you have via email. I’d be happy to get some additional ideas.

  4. Looking at your list as XML, rather than XHTML – shouldn’t your list somewhere have an attribute identifier to say what it contains? Possibly in the form of an id or class to help with XSL or DOM processing and identifying within the code.
    <ul id=”chocolates”>
    <li>Snickers</li>