Code complexity aside, which of the follow two options is preferred for displaying html ordered lists?

The first aligns the item numbers to the right (with decimals all in line). The second aligns the item numbers to the left (with the first digit of the number all in line)

image showing two ordered lists. the first has the numbers right aligned. the second has the same list with numbers left aligned

  • 1
    Letterspacing needed. I don't like the tight-spaced 11 in the column. It distracts from either alignment flush-right or flush-left. Neither is acceptable without adjustment.
    – Stan
    Oct 8, 2019 at 15:42

3 Answers 3


Left or right depends on the context, so each option can be good. That's for the designer to decide and there is no 'best practice'. What you can do is improve your choice by using the Open Type tabular numbers feature, explained here: https://graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/a/110877/62949

enter image description here

  • Failing that handy optical feature, there's always letterspacing.
    – Stan
    Oct 8, 2019 at 15:45

This is really a matter of opinion.

I prefer right aligned numbers, then inset, left aligned text to the right of the numbers.

I also prefer my numbered list to not have periods or parentheses at all. That is unless at least one of the list item text also starts with a number - then I'll use a close parenthesis to separate the bullet from the content.

 1 An item
 2 Another item
 3 Third Item
10 Tenth Item
11 Last Item


 1) First
 2) Second
 3) 3 Items 
10) The penultimate item
11) 11 total Items

Again, this is my preference.

The primary factor with lists is to always remain consistent with their styling across a piece or brand. You don't want to format one list a certain way, then format another list a different way. So use a format which will work universally for all lists needed.


When there are doubts in graphic design the best it's going to the contrast.

  • Decision: adding a differentiating character to separate items by numbers.
  • Problem: how this character interacts graphically.

If we isolate the differentiating character, it shows a vertical alignment:

vertical alignment

It's not perceptible in a character as small as a dot, but if we exaggerate this character the irregularity increases:


When we are incorporating a numerical list to our design it's to favor the ease of reading. If to favor this reading we add a series of numbers plus a new character, this discordant element should be kept as far as possible from being a new irregular noise in reading.

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