Punctuality Rules!

MM: Important Bulletin!

MM: Important Bulletin!


Bullet lists are all the rage these days, so let’s give a very quick overview about correct usage, shall we?

  • Each bullet should begin a new idea, or a new item
  • Unless every bullet is a complete sentence, you do not need periods at the end of each item
  • If at all possible, the bullets should be “parallel.”
  • That is, the grammatical structure should match:
    • Orange ball (Adjective noun)
    • Yellow sun (Adjective noun)
    • Blue sky (Adjective noun)
  •  Not random, unparallel construction:
    • Clear sky (Adjective noun)
    • Happily running (Adverb verb)
    • He laughs (Noun verb)

What obvious things did I miss? Thoughts? Questions? (I’m kind of tired, so really, anything is possible.)

6 thoughts on “MM: Important Bulletin!

  1. Melissa Donovan

    I love bullet lists not just because they are Google-icious, but also because they help keep ideas organized and accessible. Numbered lists are good too, but usually used in a very different way 😉

    Melissa Donovan’s last blog post..Rhetoric 101

  2. --Deb Post author

    And, isn’t it interesting, about the numbered list and bullet list thing? They’re so similar, really, and often could be used interchangeably, and yet … they’re different!

  3. Clare Lynch

    Hi Deb

    I recently blogged on the topic of “How to avoid inflation when introducing a bulleted list” as part of my “Tautology Tuesday” series.

    Tautology aside, the post elicited commentary about the use of the colon when introducing a list, specifically Strunk & White’s rule that a colon “should not separate a verb from its complement or a preposition from its object”.

    I think this is a rule that US writers get more worked up about than we do in the UK, but I’d be grateful for your thoughts on the matter!


  4. Clare Lynch

    So to adhere strictly to the “no colon after a verb” rule, shouldn’t you remove the first colon, following “match” in your above post? Personally, I’m not offended by it, but I get the impression a lot of Strunk & White devotees would be!