from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

A list (from Italian lista "bar, strip of paper") is a "written compilation, list ... of people or things listed from a certain point of view". [1] The presentation takes place in a uniform form that is repeated for the respective individual content, for example as lines of the same type, often in a fixed sort order ( alphabetically , numerically or chronologically ).

Lists can be created manually (handwritten) or automatically , for example by computer programs (see also report generator ). They are often provided on paper or electronically in formats such as PDF , but may e.g. B. also appear as (part of) the screen content(s). The content is often character-oriented (as text and number fields, also continuous text ), but graphic elements are also possible in lists .

Lists are based on any available information sources, mostly databases in the computer sector . By sorting and structuring the “listed” data/facts, categories can be formed and e.g. B. Group totals and totals are reported. Certain typographical stylistic elements (such as "hanging indentation" , fonts, etc.) can be used for such hierarchically subordinate/superior objects/objects (e.g. customer > order) or for the presentation of special facts (such as totals, error messages) .

The term "list" often appears as a partial term in the designation of specific information collections (list of employees, list of voters, shopping list ...) or generally stands for the way in which data/information is presented in a uniform form and in a continuous sequence. The bandwidth ranges from simple shopping lists to comprehensive directories such as telephone books and much more. a. Self-contained documents/media (list of members, product catalogue) are generally considered to be “lists” . In a narrower sense, however, this also means the form, in which information ('list', consecutively) is presented; it can be contained in other media/documents (book, advertising brochure) or also recursively as a list in a list (orders in the customer list).

Delimitation: In programming , the term “list” also stands for “a concatenated sequence of elements of a given data type ” with a finite number of elements. [2] These elements can be of different types, see list (data structure) .


Lists provide an overview from a quantitative point of view. They make quantities visible, existing and/or missing; they show what has been achieved as well as what is still missing, right and wrong. Due to their arrangement (hierarchy and sorting), they make it easy to find individual content.

Similar terms

"List" stands for the term under which one understands the provision/representation of information/data that is repeated in the same way. In linguistic usage, other designations or partial designations are often used synonymously for lists, which means that certain essential features or information purposes can be particularly expressed. Examples are:

  • Directory or catalog are called lists with an inventory character . They show the elements of a given entity (products, members), usually indicated in the list title. Directories of persons (as in the catalog of the bishops of Schleswig ) are usually not called 'catalog'.
  • Lists in a good non-fiction book called registers offer search options that go beyond orientation using the table of contents. Often only one (1) expression (name, place, any relevant keyword) is "registered" as a single entry - which usually refers to a page number. Official directories are also often called "registers", e.g. B. the commercial register .
  • Reports usually inform certain recipients, often on a regular basis and with individually defined purposes (example 'sales statistics': sales volumes per product per branch and month) .
  • A chronicle is a list/collection of certain facts/events in a chronological order, mostly for past points in time.
  • Tables are called lists when the individual data is presented as data fields in rows and columns, often surrounded by a frame. List/table are then regarded as synonyms. [3] Tables can also be designated within a list for repeated entries (e.g. each customer's orders).

Numerous other designations are known as synonyms for "list", for example overview, compilation, list, enumeration, listing, proof and much more. a. [4] [5]

Various of these designations also occur with other word meanings than "list" ( homonyms ). Examples:

  • Table as expression for database table : A database table contains i. i.e. R. only the data of one (1) specific, methodically determined fact such as customer OR order OR product; see entity type . Lists, on the other hand, can represent data from different database tables via database mechanisms as belonging together and in any form (not just as a table with rows/columns) and, for example, also form totals from them.
  • Catalogs are also referred to as means of representation/presentation in which facts/things are not offered in a strictly uniform list form and are often predominantly illustrated or also in book form. Examples: exhibition catalogue , mail order catalogue.
  • Reports are also called recordings that are not in the form of a list or index, but in any open format (text, images, etc.). Examples: expedition report, final report.

Content and structure


Lists can (except for individual lines) optionally consist of several parts, each of which is represented as an individual line type. These are called differently, especially when using computer programs:

  • List Header: What is at the very top of the list; e.g. B. the company name, list title, manufacturer of the list, etc.
  • Footer: At the end of the entire list; e.g. B. Total/number of all objects shown in the list (customers, orders ...)
  • Page Header: At the top of each page; e.g. B. one or more headings with the designation of the fields shown in the individual (Lfd.Nr Datum Name Betrag …)lines, possibly with highlighted colors/fonts
  • Group header, possibly multi-level: E.g. name/address of the customer in the group header_customer, order date in the group header_order
  • Single row(s) or detail area: Contains the details of the list, e.g. B. Details of one (1) ordered product (product number, description, weight, price… in an order list).
  • Group Footer: At the end of each group, e.g. B. Number and total price of ordered products in the group footer_customer
  • Page footer: At the bottom of each page, e.g. B. the creation date and/or the current page number

The number of lines per line type depends on the information details to be displayed, possibly a variable number of lines. The structure (and the sorting) often results from attributes of the data to be listed, for example the customer number, order number, article number, the order date or other time information. If such implicit identifiers are not given, sequential numbering is often used, especially in text-oriented lists. Different forms of numbering are used for entries with a hierarchical structure (see also Article Outline ). Examples:

  • A, B, C … or 1, 2, 3 … (only 1 sorting/grouping term)
  • 1a, 1b, 1c, 2, 3a ... or A1, A2, B1, B2, B3 ... (two sorting terms)
  • IA1, IA2 ..., II.A.1 ... (three sorting terms)

If the list is created using data processing , such structures can be created with the support of a report generator .


The contents of lists are - except when presented in a random, z. B. existing order in the data carrier - according to a specific sorting sequence . This is often created by a corresponding technical sorting process before the list is created. For example, an order list can be sorted by customer number. It is not uncommon for several 'sorting terms' to be used at the same time – in the example also the order date and the product number. The sorting hierarchy (1, 2, ...) is defined for each sorting term and whether it should be sorted in ascending or descending order.

If the alphabetically or chronologically following element is below in a vertical list, it is called an ascending list or a list sorted in ascending order . Increasing means compliance with the order relation "<" or - if "=" is provided - "<=", e.g. B. according to the lexicographical order . Example:

  • A... or January 1, 2004
  • B… or January 2, 2004
  • C… or January 2, 2004
  • D… or January 4, 2004

If, on the other hand, the alphabetically or chronologically following element is above, one speaks of a descending list or a list sorted in descending order, as in the following example:

  • C… or January 3, 2004
  • B… or January 2, 2004
  • A... or January 1, 2004

Sorting specifics :

  • Is after time specifications , z. B. Sorted by a date, the list order is usually determined by the hierarchical meaning of the time elements; Example: The position of the entry '13. May 2005' is listed in the order year/month/day, ie under the value '20050513'.
  • When sorting a list, for example by book or film title , the leading (definite or indefinite) article – separated by a comma – is usually placed at the end. This leads to a better overview, as otherwise most of the entries would be found under "D" (der, die, das) or "E" (ein, ein). Example:
  • The sorting order for numeric values ​​is determined by their value regardless of their representation (e.g. with leading zeros or spaces, decimal places) - with the highest negative values ​​appearing at the beginning; Example: -800 … -00030 … 0 … 65 … 998.

design tools

In order to make list contents manageable and clear, certain stylistic devices are used for numerous issues, especially for lists generated by computer programs , for example and optionally:

  • List size (e.g. DIN A4 or similar) and format (portrait or landscape)
  • Font types, sizes or colors, bold for emphasis/distinction depending on the line type or in special situations (e.g. error notices)
  • Single or multi-line arrangement of the listed information/data
  • Hierarchical relationships (such as customer > order > products) as indented paragraphs ( “hanging indent” ), with bullet points (“bullet list”)
  • Headings – with frames or underlinings of different thicknesses and possibly different colors
  • Totals in bold
  • Page change after/before certain data/line types, if necessary with 'conditional keeping' of certain lines (otherwise new sheet)
  • conditional non-display ('hide') of certain detailed data

amount of entries

Which entries are contained in a list is always determined by a selection made or made beforehand . In an address list, for example, only “Friends” or all addresses can be listed. However, the selection function does not belong to the term "list" in the narrower sense.

Special shapes (examples)


A special feature are checklists (actually checklists ) that support a workflow . A checklist contains items with completed and uncompleted activities or checks. Checklists can be part of a so-called Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), see also Questionnaire .

network plans

In a broader sense, an overview created using the network plan technique is also a graphically or tabularly prepared list of events or activities that are presented as a function of time and/or events.

Further examples

The term "list" is used in a number of contexts. Compilations of certain items/persons/objects etc. often have the partial term "list" in their title:

  • List of members: List of all members (in a club),
  • Dunning list: List of customers with overdue payments (in the dunning process),
  • List of employees (e.g. employees of a specific department),
  • Address list, birthday list, appointment list, electoral register,
  • Shopping list, price list (e.g. as a menu).

With established meanings, the term "list" is also known in connection with colors :

Other lists with special meaning are known, for example, under the following designations:

In the form of lists, for example, the following information also appears in connection with the Internet :

  • Lines of results returned by an Internet search engine
  • Overviews of the stock exchange prices of certain securities
  • Listing of the e-mails in the "Inbox" ; clicking on a line opens the respective e-mail in detail format.

Examples of non-list would be:

  • Displaying information on forms or index cards or e.g. B. the detailed display of an incoming e-mail.
  • A website ; however, it may contain lists, e.g. B. for stock prices.
  • Books and magazines are not lists either, but may contain lists.

See also


  • Umberto Eco: The Infinite List , Munich: Hanser, 2009
  • Susanne Deicher, Erik Maroko (ed.): The list. Tombs, archives and early automata. Orders of things and people in Egypt , Berlin: Kulturverlag Kadmos, 2015; ISBN 978-3-86599-228-4 .
  • Shaun Usher (ed.): Lists of Note. Records that mean the world , Munich: Wilhelm Heyne Verlag, 2015

web links

Wiktionary: List  – explanations of meaning, word origin, synonyms, translations


  1. Duden spelling list
  2. Duden Informatik ISBN 3-411-05232-5
  3. woxikon table
  4. ^ Synonyms for list
  5. ↑ Word meaning: list