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Most people think of lists as simply a way of displaying related items in a numbered or unordered listing, well that certainly is true but list can do so much more than that. Lists allow us to group related content together and then structure that content in a way that denotes importance, rank or similarity. When used for navigation, lists offer a way to group links together so that user agents know that all of those links are related. So if you've ever looked at the code of a page and you wondered why in the world would somebody take their menu and place it inside of a list. That's why? They're basically telling user agents that hey, these links belong together and they're related to each other.
So HTML offers us three main types of lists: Ordered, Unordered, and Definition Lists. Ordered and Unordered Lists are the two most common types, so we're going to take a look at those first. So I have the programs.htm file open here from the 04_04 directory and it's kind of right where we left it in the last movie. If I scroll down for example I can see that the only thing that it lacks sort of a really defined structure are these choices right down here. We have a list of academic links that are going to sit up there in one of the sidebars a little bit later on.
So I want these items to be related to each other in some way, right now they're not. They're all just separate paragraphs so there's nothing to tell any type of user agent that these items belong together. Well a list is a perfect structure for that. So what I'm going to do is I'm just going to go ahead and highlight all of these elements, each one of them, and then making sure that I'm in my Properties Inspector looking at the HTML properties, I can see that right here, just like Word or any other Word Processing program, I have the option of creating an Unordered or an Ordered List. I'm going to go ahead and create an Ordered List, and as soon as I do that, I notice that I get numbers 1 through 13, and there are all my choices.
So again, this is sort of a way of grouping them together and whether you use an Ordered or Unordered List is largely up to you. Numbered lists are good for when you need to denote a specific order or a hierarchy of elements, whereas, Unordered Lists are really good for just grouping related items together. Now there's really not much difference between the two to be quite honest with you, and I'm going to switch over to Split Screen view to show you what I mean by that. You'll notice that if we go over to Split Screen view and we focus on the code of our list, you can see right here we have an opening ol tag for Ordered List and we have a closing ol tag, and then each of the elements inside of it is inside an li or that's what's known as a List Item.
So we have all these list items inside this Ordered List. So how difficult is it to go from an Ordered List to an Unordered List? Well, obviously we could just simply click a button down here in the Properties Inspector, but if you're working with a code it's actually pretty darn easy too. You'll notice for example if I change this ol to a ul, in both the opening and the closing tags, and I click back over in Design view, we go from an Ordered List to an Ordered List so that's how similar they are. They're amazingly similar. Each of these lists will have options that are specific to the list.
For example, if I click back on the list itself and take this back to being an Ordered List, which is an ol, if I click on the list itself, you can see that if I click inside one of the list items I have this little option for list items here, and I can change the entire list itself, so I can change it to say a Bulleted List or a Numbered List. I could change the Style, so if I don't want a Number, if I want alphabet small or Roman numerals that sort of thing, and I can also change where this starts at, so you have a lot of options that you can change here.
Now as soon as you do that what you're going to notice is what you really doing is setting attributes within the list itself, and some our list types are going to have more attributes than others. For example, for Unordered Lists, let me go back to our ul, the only attributes that I have really got here are a type, which allows me to choose circle disk or square, so if instead of bullets, if I just want the squares, I can come in and do an unordered list and do squares like that. Now of course, this is really only going to work for you if you want the list structure itself to be visible.
A lot of times through CSS, you're going to strip out all the default list formatting. You're going to do away with the margins and padding, you're going to do away with the bullets, you might substitute your own custom icons through CSS or you might do away with the numbers, just so, you can sort of group this content together and then style it however you want. So keep in mind that for the most part what you're looking at when you're working with list is you're looking at grouping related content together. Okay, so that covers Ordered List and Unordered List. In our next movie we're going to take a look at a third type of list that you can create within Dreamweaver and that would be a Definition List.
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