What Is Checklist

A checklist is a list of things to be checked off to reduce failure by compensating for potential limits of human memory and attention. It ensures consistency and completeness in carrying out a complex task. A basic example is a "to do list". More advanced checklist could be a schedule, which lays out tasks to be done or confirmed according to time of day or other factors.

Checklists are often presented as lists with small checkboxes down the left hand side of the page. A small tick or checkmark is drawn in the box after the item has been completed.

One checklist can be used two ways:


With a CONFIRM checklist you perform your job from your memory or your experience. Then you check the items off the checklist and confirm everything was done accordingly.

This type of checklist is often found in the aviation industry in procedures like taking off or handling a disaster. When you’re handling something unexpected, your emotion is in the way so the chances of missing something can be huge. Using this type of reminder checklist is a great way to make sure everything is done right and in the right order.


First you read what you have to do, and then you do it and check that you’ve done it.

Examples of checklists are:

  • Pre-flight checklists to ensure that critical items are not forgotten

  • Surgical Safety checklists to ensure that clinical practice guidelines are followed

  • Software engineering checklists to check security access, process compliance, code standardization and error prevention, and other quality assurance

  • Litigation checklists to deal with the complexity of discovery and motions practice

  • Investment checklists to ensure critical factors have been considered in the investment process

  • Public liability claims checklists mitigate claims of negligence by providing evidence of a risk management system being in place

  • Industry specific checklists to ensure complex operation procedures are carried out