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Lists. Lists should have line breaks unless the items are so short that three or more items will fit on a single line. That line breaks are not used is, I think, a survival from the days when typesetting had to be done manually and paper was expensive. Note that legal statutes actually follow my advice, because its benefits are so obvious and important in reading statutes. Thus,


RESTATEMENT (THIRD) OF RESTITUTION AND UNJUST ENRICHMENT
§ 43: A person who obtains a benefit (a) in breach of a fiduciary duty, (b) in breach of an equivalent duty imposed by a relation of trust and confidence, or (c) in consequence of another’s breach of such a duty, is liable in restitution to the person to whom the duty is owed.

should be


RESTATEMENT (THIRD) OF RESTITUTION AND UNJUST ENRICHMENT
§ 43: A person who obtains a benefit
     (a) in breach of a fiduciary duty,
     (b) in breach of an equivalent duty imposed by a relation of trust and confidence, or
     (c) in consequence of another’s breach of such a duty,
is liable in restitution to the person to whom the duty is owed.

Using line breaks is less smooth and elegant than running everything together, but it is more readable, which is our goal. Moreover, if you want to be smooth and elegant and you’re using lists, you’re starting off on wrong foot anyway. Lists are very good and proper for the Plain Style, for Instructions, and for any kind of writing where communication and explanation are the only goals. For the Grand Style of Churchill and Macaulay, or an Elegaic or Rhapsodic Style which is half poetry, stay away from lists altogether. If you put in (a), (b), (c) you are breaking up the phrasing. Instead, just use commas. You can’t refer back to the items later by label then, and they are less clearly separated by commas and semicolons than by letters or roman numerals, but you preserve the flow.

Churchill ended his 1940 speech with this long sentence:

We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.

You might object to my using line breaks in the list:

We shall go on to the end,
we shall fight in France,
we shall fight on the seas and oceans,
we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air,
we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be,
we shall fight on the beaches,
we shall fight on the landing grounds,
we shall fight in the fields and in the streets,
we shall fight in the hills;
we shall never surrender,
and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.

It’s no better, though, if you itemize without line breaks:

We shall (a) go on to the end, (b) fight in France, (c) fight on the seas and oceans, (d) fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, and (e) defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight (i) on the beaches, (ii) on the landing grounds, (iii) in the fields and (iv) in the streets, (v) in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.

Churchill at the table
Churchill at the table

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Numbered lists are very useful. Within paragraphs, use (i), (ii), (iii), because little roman numerals like these are in obstrusive and we do not expect them to carry over across paragraphs and pages, unlike (1), (2), (3). Using (a), (b), (c) is fine too.
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