The Five Column List relies on two concepts to make it the best list design: 1 It condenses the most and 2 is the most symmetrical.
It condenses the most because 20% of a page is the width you would need for the average sentence in a list, so the word to page ratio is maximized, which allows one to see more of the list in the screen and allowing you to absorb the big picture.
It is symmetrical because it has a column in the middle to center your focus on, with two columns on either side. The number five can be symmetrically muliplied. For example, 5 to 25 or 100 to 500 to 2,500 are easy numbers to wrap one's head around because of their symmetricity. Numbers involving five can be easily converted into even numbers, such as 5X2=10, or 25X4=100.
I utilize list layering with my Audio History books as a way of putting book chapters within chapters. You can see in the diagram to the left which list or lists the current list is on top of because you can see the mother list's color around the edges. When one list is on top of many lists you can see all of the parent lists because their colors are seen sequentially.
The Five Column List encourages Category Creation
Words can be packed together very densely on the five column list, so this makes it possible to fit more lists within this format; this in turn encourages the creation of more and more lists. The more lists the better. A list is a comprehensive grouping of similar objects. When you unite the completeness of a list with the habit of creating categories for everything, you have a system of lists within lists, folders within folders or categories within categories. Categories divide large collections of information into units of smaller organized information packets that can be retained in the brain because they have a name and a number assigned to them.
Categories should be created based off of the natural model of how our mind is used to thinking. The best way to find which numbers to use in dividing things into categories is the way the Roman Empire divided their Military and Civil Government. They had Tent groups of Ten guys, and there were ten of them in a Century which had 100 men. I organize things similarly. I have ten colors to represent the ten numbers from one to ten. My one page list consists of 100. Similar to our mind's natural way of dividing things, my lists are usually between 10 and 100 in size so you can remember each list as well as the contents of each list so that you have a good map to aid in memorizing the subject in it's entirety.
Densely packed categories that are in turn divided in regular intervals into smaller categories is a clear way to travel in and out of the detail of a subject and related subjects because of it's symmetry, uniformity and density.
The importance of making pages dense with information should not be overlooked. When you can see the entirety of something without having to scroll down to complete your absorbtion of what the list or chart has to teach, then it is easier to hold your imaginative thinking that can absorb the data in it's entirety.
The list in the right column is a good example of the benefits of a list of things that have something in common. The thing that the subjects of the list on the right have in common is that they all are the subjects of their own lists of similar size that are on my site.