We consider how theories of serial recall might apply to other short-term memory tasks involving recall of order. In particular, we consider the possibility that when participants are cued to recall an item at an arbitrary position in a sequence, they covertly serially recall the list up to the cued position. One question is whether such “scanning” is articulatory in nature. Two experiments are presented in which the syllabic length of words preceding and following target positions were manipulated, to test the prediction of an articulatory-based mechanism that time to recall an item at a particular position will depend on the number of preceding long words. Although latency was dependent on target position, no word length effects on latency were observed. Additionally, the effects of word length on accuracy replicate recent demonstrations in serial recall that recall accuracy is dependent on the word length of all list items, not just that of target items, in line with distinctiveness assumptions. It is concluded that if scanning does occur, it is not carried out by covert or overt articulation.