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How to Write Bullet Points

What are the best practices for writing bullet points? Well, you could say - short is the new long! Formulating long sentences in extensive paragraphs is a thing of the past for most writers.

BULLET POINTS: Readers want to retrieve written information fast. Using semicolon bullet points helps them achieve this.

So let’s explain how to punctuate a bulleted list and write bullet points correctly.

What is the definition of a bullet point?

• It is clear information laid out in a bulleted list.
• Sentences or phrases introduced by a bullet, number, or an icon.
• These three items are examples of bulleted bullet points.

You can use bullet point punctuation to form a list of features. They are helpful to explain numbered steps or for listing useful tips.

Whether you are writing books or creating website content. Most of us write as many bulleted posts as we do paragraphs.

Information derived from a bulleted list should be crisp and clear – readable!

  • Try to emphasize the first few words of each bullet point.
  • The aim is to capture the writer’s idea from a brief scan of the post.
  • You can achieve this using italics, bold font, or by underlining key words.

Bullet points should to be consistent in structure. Ideally, make them all sentences, all questions, or all phrased fragments. But, using bullet points in two different sets do not need to follow these rules for effective writing.

Rules on Bullet Points

Literary rules on bullet points are sparse. But writers should always obey one specific rule. When you punctuate a bulleted list in the right way, each item should relate to each other. This is especially so when there are many fragments.

In some cases it may be better to use two or more bullet sets instead of one long one. Remember to label each list for clarity and readability.

There are no written rules for bullet points length, as such. But, try to avoid making them too long. Semicolon bullet points lose impact when they look like paragraphs.

Note: As a rule, most writing experts suggest a reasonable length to be no more than three lines per bulleted post. Make sure to use the same margins and fonts for each inclusion.

Numbering Bullet Points

When should you number bullet points? As a rule of thumb you should be numbering bullet points any time you have 5 or more items in your list. The advantage of using numerals and numbering bullet points is being able to refer to the numbers and track the bullets.

Bullet Point Transitions

In general it is best not to use transition words and phrases with bullet points. Transitional words are linking phrases and generally not used as punctuation in bulleted lists. Using transitionals also tends to slow down your readers.

Avoid using bullet points for sensitivity and when you want to build rapport with your readers. Use bullets to communicate efficiency. As a rule it is difficult to communicate warmth in a short list.

Punctuating Bullet Points

How to Write and Punctuate Bullet PointsHow to punctuate bullet points is the topic of many business writing courses. Punctuating bullet points correctly is important.

Here are 5 basic recommendations for bullet point punctuation UK:

  1. Not all bullet points need periods. But, bullet listings that are a full sentence should end with a period (a full stop).
  2. A period should also follow any bulleted phrase that completes the introductory stem.
  3. Periods are not usually necessary after short phrases or fragments.
  4. It is best to use either all sentences or all fragments.
  5. A mixture of sentences, phrases, and fragments is difficult to understand.

These are some examples of punctuating bullet points consistently and complete the introductory stem.

I like living in England because of its:

  • Access to natural beauty and opportunities for work.
  • Social attitudes and liberal politics.
  • Moderate climate (warm in the summer and not too cold in the winter).

These are some examples of punctuating bullet points which do not complete the introductory stem.

Here are some things I like about living in England:

  • Access to natural beauty and opportunities for work
  • Social attitudes and liberal politics
  • Moderate climate (warm in the summer and not too cold in the winter)

Using Periods with Bullet Points

There is one big exception on punctuating bullet points with periods. It should occur any time phrases complete the stem sentence. But, in general avoid the period if the list contains one word or a short phrases.

Do not use this punctuation in bullet points if it appears to be an inventory list. So for example, I like living in England because of its:

  • Natural beauty
  • Opportunities for work
  • Social attitudes
  • Liberal politics
  • Moderate climate

Punctuate Bullets Consistently

If there is one key rule of punctuating bullet points, it is ‘consistency’. When one bullet ends with a period – they should all end all with a period. Likewise, none of the bullets need end punctuation when you use one word or short phrase fragments.

Writing Bullet Points Tip: Try to avoid ending a list of bullet points with semicolons. It is generally seen as old-fashioned. Keep your bullet points crisp, clear, and precise.

Writing and Punctuating Bullet Points in Written English