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In the Markdown reference, "Numbered lists are easy": 1. But they don't work for me, 2. ... unless there is a blank line before the first entry. 3. Is this a bug?


Answer summary:

The answer is that this is how Markdown works.

I still think it's a usability issue that affects everyone who only writes lists occasionally. If you are used to writing your lists without blank lines - for example if you use Microsoft Word or Outlook - then the solution is counter-intuitive and not documented in the Markdown reference.

Apparently "most users figure it out eventually" so it isn't necessary to improve the documentation.

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The original question had "documentation" and "usability" tags because a note in the Markdown reference to "start a list with a blank line" would have solved my problem and saved me 29 out of 30 minutes. As you can see in entry 2, I did work out the answer eventually, but only in the process of writing this question, after giving up on the documentation and marking up my list in HTML. –  richj Jan 21 '10 at 9:19
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3 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Probably not a bug, it is the same for code blocks and bulleted lists.
(I'm so used to it by now it doesn't bother me anymore...)

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Bugged me for awhile, I'm used to it now too. :P –  o.k.w Jan 20 '10 at 10:19
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Accepting this answer, in spite of and because of its Dilbert-esque defeatism. –  richj Jan 29 '10 at 13:10
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alt text

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Hard to argue with that one... –  Kobi Jan 20 '10 at 10:13
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Oooo.. +1 for the EYE! –  o.k.w Jan 20 '10 at 10:19
    
Thanks for the answer, but none of these points directly address the issue. I can see from the preview that the format is wrong, but I still don't know how to fix it. I can read the Markdown reference, but the list section doesn't tell me that lists have to start with a blank line. My list isn't part of a new paragraph, it's a list in the same paragraph, so that doesn't help. I could leave it to someone else to format my text - but that's lazy. That's why, after a year of using SO, I've spent another half hour trying to format a list, eventually resorting to HTML. –  richj Jan 21 '10 at 9:04
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See

http://meta.stackoverflow.com/editing-help

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Maybe instead of "put returns between paragraphs" it would be more explicit to say "put blank lines between paragraphs". Of course, as with all of those bullet points, this is only for the benefit of those who read. –  ベレアー アダム Jan 20 '10 at 14:45
    
Thanks for the answer. I have read that page - and just read it again looking for something that tells me that a list has to start with a blank line. I don't see it. –  richj Jan 21 '10 at 9:09
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@richj well, the vast majority of users don't have a problem figuring it out, between the live preview and the help file. Not sure what else to tell you. If you like HTML, use HTML. It is supported. –  Jeff Atwood Jan 21 '10 at 9:13
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there are three users on this question that did figure it out eventually but found it to be a usability issue. It would take one line in the Markdown reference to fix. I realize that there is a limit on how much detail you can add before the reference is a million lines long, but this is the one missing piece of information that makes lists hard to use. I'd much rather use Markdown than HTML because (usually) it's much faster. –  richj Jan 21 '10 at 9:34
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