Use a number list to define your tasks

This article is based on information from the article  Do you use ‘Do you use tasklists in your PBIs?’ Published by SSW Enterprise Software Development a company I used to work for.

How often have you looked at walls of text in emails, Teams messages or Jira Tasks and tried to decipher what you need to do?

This communication standard aims to turn list numbers into actionable tasks that the reader can directly respond to or action.

This standard will train users to digest numbered lists as tasks they have been assigned when looking at any communication via email, Jira, or Teams messages. Furthermore, writing each task in the format of a CTA statement will make it clear to the reader what tasks they have been assigned.

You can use any other listing format, such as bullet points, alphabets, or Roman numerals, for other lists you might want to include in your communication. With time and practice, using a numbered list will instantly become recognisable as a task.



  1. Numbered List – Use numbered lists to denote a task. Use A, B, C, or bullet points for items other than Tasks.
  2. Clarity Try to make each task concise and clear.
  3. Task Ownership – Address a list of tasks to the person responsible. You can address multiple people with different task’s in the same email.


Let’s look at a few examples. First, we will look a bad example and then improve on it by using numbered lists. Let’s jump in.

In this example, stakeholders are trying to convey to a web designer the changes they want to make to a particular design they were presented with.

❌ Bad Example

Hi Matt,

As per our Team’s conversation with Mary and Luke, we am very happy with the designs you’ve presented to us. Option 2 is what we like the best. But  we would like a few minor changes to this design.

Purple is my favourite colour, so please use light purple for titles. I see Google Maps on many similar websites, so I would like to see this somewhere on the page. The only other negative I see with the design is the lack of a link to the Contact Us page.


Email: ❌ Bad example – sending email with tasks hard to understand

This looks like a perfectly good email, but it is just a little hard to digest all the actionable points the stakeholders would like to see changed.

When presenting tasks in the form of a wall of text or even a long sentence, you run the risk of the reader not clearly understanding all the requirements and carrying out only part of the task.

Let’s look at how we can transform this email into a numbered list.

✅ Good Examples

Hi Matt,

As per our Team’s conversation with Mary and Luke, we am very happy with what you’ve done. They look stunning.

❤️ My favourite – Option 2.

We need a few minor changes to make these designs awesome:

  1. Can you make the title colour dark purple?
  2. Can you include a map of Melbourne City somewhere?
  3. Can you set up a link to the Contact Us page with the CTA text “Talk to us now” right at the bottom of the text?



Email: ✅ Good example – using tasked numbered lists as CTA’s

By numbering each task and making it sound like a CTA. It is obvious what the author wants, and the reader needs to respond to.

With practice and consistent repetition, team members will be able to easily recognise numbered lists as tasks that need to be actioned or responded to.

In our next video, we will examine how adding media like images adds even more clarity to messages.