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A list (from the Italian lista "strip, strip of paper") is a "written compilation, list ... from a certain point of view of listed persons or things". The display 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 sorting order ( alphabetical , numerical or chronological ).

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 . B. also appear as (part of) the screen content (s). The content is often character-oriented (as text and number fields, also running text ), but graphical elements are also possible in lists .

Any existing sources of information are the basis for lists, in the computer sector mostly databases . By sorting and structuring the "listed" data / facts, categories can be created and B. Group sums and total sums are shown. Certain typographical stylistic devices (such as "hanging indentation" , fonts, etc.) can be used for such hierarchically subordinate / superordinate objects (e.g. customer> order) or to display special facts (such as sums, error messages) .

The term "list" often appears as a partial term in the designation of specific collections of information (employee list, electoral list, shopping list ...) or generally stands for the way of presenting data / information in a uniform form and continuous sequence. The spectrum ranges from simple shopping lists to comprehensive directories such as telephone books and the like. v. a. "List" are generally self-contained documents / media (member list, product catalog). In a narrower sense, it is also understood to mean the form in which information ('list-like', continuously) is presented; it can be contained in other media / documents (books, advertising brochures) or recursively as a list in a list (orders in the customer list).

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


Lists give an overview from a quantitative aspect. 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 by which one understands the provision / presentation of information / data that is repeated in the same way. In linguistic usage, other names or partial names are often used synonymously for lists, whereby certain characteristics or information purposes can be specifically expressed. Examples are:

  • Directory or catalog are called lists with inventory character . They show the elements of a given entity, usually identified in the list title (products, members). Directories of persons (as in the catalog of the bishops of Schleswig ) are usually not called 'catalog'.
  • Under the designation register , lists in a good non-fiction book offer search options that go beyond orientation using a 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 registers are also often called “registers”, e.g. B. the commercial register .
  • Report s or reports , inform most specific recipients often at regular intervals and with individually specified purposes (for example, sales statistics': sales volumes per product per branch and month).
  • A chronicle is an enumeration / collection of certain facts / events in a chronological order, mostly for previous 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 considered a synonym. Tables can also be shown within a list for repeated entries (e.g. the orders of each customer).

Numerous other terms are known as a synonym for “list”, for example overview, compilation, listing, listing, listing, evidence, etc. v. a.

Several of these terms appear with other word meanings than “list” ( homonyms ). Examples:

  • Table as expression for database table : A database table contains i. d. Usually only the data of one (1) certain, methodically determined facts such as customer OR order OR product; see also entity type . Lists, on the other hand, can use database mechanisms to display data from different database tables as belonging together and in any form (not just as a table with rows / columns) and, for example, to generate sums from them.
  • Catalogs are also called means of representation / presentation in which facts / things are not offered in a strictly uniform list form and often predominantly pictorially or in book form. Examples: exhibition catalog , mail order catalog.
  • Reports are also called records that are not available in list / directory form, but in any open format (texts, images ...). Examples: expedition report, final report.

Content and structure


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

  • List header: What is at the very beginning of the list; z. B. the company name, list title, manufacturer of the list u. Ä.
  • List foot: At the end of the entire list; z. B. Total / number of all objects shown in the list (customers, orders ...)
  • Page header: At the beginning of each page; z. B. one or more headings with the designation of the fields shown in the individual lines (Lfd.Nr Datum Name Betrag …), if necessary 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 line (s) or detail area: Contains the details of the list, e.g. B. Information on one (1) ordered product (product number, description, weight, price ... in an order list).
  • Group foot: At the end of each group, e.g. B. Number and total price of products ordered in the customer group footer
  • Page footer: At the end 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 the attributes of the data to be listed, for example the customer number, order number, article number, order date or other time information. If such implicit identifiers are not given, consecutive numbering is often used, especially for text-oriented lists. Different forms of numbering are used for entries with a hierarchical structure (see also Article Structure ). 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 sort terms)
  • IA1, IA2…, II.A.1… (three sorting terms)

When creating the list by means of data processing , such structures can be created with the support of a report generator .


If the alphabetically or chronologically following element is below in a vertical list, this is called an ascending list or an ascending list as in the following example:

  • A ... or January 1, 2004
  • B ... or January 2, 2004
  • C ... or January 3, 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 descending list as in the following example:

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

If a list is sorted alphabetically (for example in the case of book or film titles), the leading (definite or indefinite) article is usually placed at the end - separated by a comma . This is for the simple reason of better clarity, since otherwise a large part of the entries would be found under “D” (der, die, das) or “E” (one, one). Example:

Design means

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

  • List size (e.g. A4 or similar) and format (portrait or landscape)
  • Font types, sizes or colors, bold type for emphasis / differentiation depending on the line type or in special situations (e.g. error messages)
  • Single or multi-line arrangement of the information / data listed
  • Hierarchical relationships (such as customer> order> products) as indented paragraphs ( "hanging indent") , with bullets (" bullet list ")
  • Headings - with frames of different thicknesses and possibly different colors or underlines
  • Sums in bold
  • Page change after / before certain data / line types, possibly with 'conditional holding together' of certain lines (otherwise new sheet)
  • Conditional non-display ('hide') of certain detailed data

Amount of entries

Which entries a list contains is always determined by a previously established or carried out selection . For example, only “friends” or all addresses can be listed in an address list. However, the selection function does not belong to the term “list” in the narrower sense.

Special forms (examples)


A special feature checklists (actually test list) including a workflow support. A checklist contains items with completed and unfinished business or reviews. Checklists can be part of a so-called Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), see also the questionnaire .

Network plans

In the broader sense, an overview created according to network plan technology is also a list of events or activities prepared in graphical or tabular form , which are shown in a time and / or event-related relationship.

Further examples

The term “list” is used in a number of contexts. Here, compilations about certain objects / people / objects etc. often have the partial term "list" in their title:

  • Member list: List of all members (in an association),
  • Dunning list: List of customers with back payments (in dunning),
  • Employee list (e.g. employees in a specific department),
  • Address list, birthday list, appointment list, electoral roll,
  • Shopping list, price list (e.g. as a menu).

The term "list" is also known with fixed meanings in connection with colors :

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

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

  • Result lines that a search engine delivers for the Internet
  • Overviews of the market prices of certain securities
  • List of emails in the "Inbox" ; by clicking on a line, the respective e-mail opens in detail format.

For example, no list would be:

  • Information displays on forms or index cards or z. B. the detailed display of an incoming e-mail.
  • A website ; however, lists can be included in it, e.g. B. for stock exchange prices.
  • Books and magazines are not lists either, but they can contain them.

See also


  • Umberto Eco: The neverending list , Munich: Hanser, 2009
  • Susanne Deicher, Erik Moroco (ed.): The list. Graves, 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 meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Duden spelling list
  2. ^ Duden Informatik ISBN 3-411-05232-5
  3. woxikon table
  4. Synonyms for list
  5. Meaning of the word: list