The Markdown editor knows that an empty line, followed by a number, followed by a period, followed by a space, is a list item.

  1. This works great
  2. It's almost magic

The problem is that I almost always use a close parenthesis for my lists. I think it's a pretty common practice, but the problem is that the editor / Markdown parser doesn't accept parenthesis as an acceptable list delimiter:

  1. This fails horribly
  2. This is on the next line I swear
  • 3
    Parens are used for letters {a) b) c)} not for numbers [1. 2. 3.]. Feb 17, 2010 at 13:34
  • 7
    @random / @John: it depends where you're are from. In many countries 1), 2) is what is usually used. Feb 17, 2010 at 14:12
  • @Koper, then only if those countries use English one could consider using it here as well?
    – Arjan
    Feb 18, 2010 at 8:54
  • I'm glad this wasn't implemented, and hope it never will be. Currently it's my favorite way to get around uncooperative automatic numbered list formatting.
    – Jason C
    Aug 12, 2013 at 15:36
  • 1
    @LadybugKiller Tell this to the millions of new users using parens for their enumerations for whatever cultural reasons. Sep 25, 2014 at 15:27

8 Answers 8


It's transformed into HTML, and rendered by your browser. So even if 1)... 2)... were recognized, the output would still be

<li>First item</li>
<li>Second item</li>

...and the output would still be

  1. First item
  2. Second item

So the change would allow markup that other Markdown engines wouldn't recognize, and produce exactly the same output. You might as well just get used to the period.


It is not a bad idea, but too significant a deviation from the Markdown specification to be viable, IMO.

  • I was afraid a little change might take a lot of work.
    – user1228
    Feb 18, 2010 at 15:22

People might currently be using this to avoid an automatic list. So, no, please.

1) one
3) two
6) three

  • Exactly what I came here to post when I saw this post pop up in my search results.
    – Jason C
    Aug 12, 2013 at 15:35

I have never seen anyone use parentheses to avoid a numbered list. It's always been the case that the author intends to create a numbered list of some kind.

Now, if HTML and CSS are incapable of producing a list with parentheses, then by all means use dots. But I'm getting a little tired of editing questions that use parentheses.


Parenthesis-delimited lists using 1) now work on Meta Stack Exchange:

  1. We're switching to CommonMark

This is indeed an extremely useful feature. In fact it is not so much a question of convenience but much more about all the new users (likely unaware of proper markdown rules) that use parens for their enumerations, probably due to different cultural standards.

One of the biggest advantages of markdown is that it is so intuitive and that text written properly structured in its raw form usually works right out of the box when processed by markdown. It really happens very often that posts from new users with enumeration lists require an edit to be properly formatted simply because they used parens instead of dots. Implementing this alternative markdown syntax would thus highly reduce the necessity to reformat every feeled 2nd enumeration list.

Also note, that the recently developed CommonMark standard seems to support paren-style enumeration, too. But while there are existing requests for implementing this here, the possiblity and time frame of this implementation are still rather vague and implementing this extended enumeration style should be easier and faster than that (like the recently introduced possibility to start lists at numbers other than 1).

  • Yep, so numbered lists in common can be delimited with periods or close parens (see the spec here), so if/when they get around to implementing the One True Spec this question becomes status-completed
    – user1228
    Sep 25, 2014 at 16:05
  • @Won't Still I'd rather like to see this implemented before the possible CommonMark implementation in 2 years. Sep 25, 2014 at 16:21
  • Turns out it was 5.5 rather than 2 years. But at least it might be solved soon. ;-) Jun 4, 2020 at 8:30

CommonMark allows for

1) parenthesis 2) delimited 3) ordered 4) lists


Will CommonMark be adopted for SE?

CommonMark rules

  • (I write after having edited yet another parenthesis-formatted ordered list.)
    – pkamb
    Dec 3, 2019 at 23:52

If you want to get an ordered list with parenthesis, you have to add a non-breaking space before each letter. In Mac, for example, you get a non-breaking space with option+space –it will appear a dot (.) in a red background.


option+space a)

option+space b)

and so on..

As I said this works for Mac. For other languages see: How do I ensure that whitespace is preserved in Markdown?

Hope it helps!

  • That is not the purpose of the question, please read it again. Nov 8, 2022 at 12:54
  • The question says: "but the problem is that the editor / Markdown parser doesn't accept parenthesis as an acceptable list delimiter". And I'm just offering a way to get it done.. Nov 10, 2022 at 8:49
  • No. The meaning is that the question author wants to write 1) and that would get rendered as a list, same as 1. and that is indeed the current behavior after SE switched to CommonMark. Nov 10, 2022 at 9:18
  • That's precisely what my code does.. :) If you write, in Mac, option+space 1), R will not treat it as an ordered list and it will show 1) instead of 1. Nov 17, 2022 at 8:56

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