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December 17, 2005


Mary Kay Matthys

If the bullets are not punctuated in between, do you place a period at the end of the last bullet, if the end of the sentence is there?


Mary Kay, good question! No, odd as it seems, there is no punctuation after the last bullet. Thanks for asking.


If the bullet points are fragments or phrases should they still start with a capital letter?


Rob, reference books differ on this question. "The Gregg Reference Manual" capitalizes all bullets. "The Chicago Manual of Style" capitalizes bulleted fragments only when they are in numbered lists. So if you were to use fragments with simple bullets (no numbers), "Chicago" would advise you to make them lower case.

I follow "Gregg" because I like the consistency of all bullet points being capitalized.


Here is the case: A bullet point includes 2 sentences, this being the only exception along all the other bullet points that would be fragments. Can I keep this bullet point without a period at the end for consistency purpose?
One example is:
- Quick-drying, water-based ink resists smearing. Writing won’t bleed through paper
Can I leave this bullet point without a period at the end if all the other bullet points do not end with one?
Thanks much!


Your two-sentence bullet will seem weird without a period at the end, especially with a period between its two sentences. You could try to make the bullet into a fragment, something like this:

Quick-drying water-based ink--less smearing, no bleed-through writing

I'm wondering why all the others are fragments and this one isn't. I would prefer consistency.

Emanuel Cruz

Can a bullet point includes just one sentence or phrase? Or does it has to include at least 2 sentences or phrases?


Emanuel, people argue over this question. My view is that using a bullet is a design decision. If you have just one point you want to set off in a bullet, fine--use just one bullet. Other people, however, feel that bullets should be reserved for lists and that "list" means more than one item. I believe a list can have just one item--my shopping list or to-do list, for example.

Anna Pande

Is it ever possible to begin bullet points with small case letters (e.g. if they end the sentence which introduces the bullet points)?

Thanks for your help.


Anna, capitalization depends on which style you follow. I follow "The Gregg Reference Manual" and the "Microsoft Manual of Style for Technical Publications." Both of them capitalize all bullet points. "The Chicago Manual of Style," however, capitalizes bullet points only in certain circumstances. If you followed "Chicago," you would not capitalize list items that complete the introductory words.

Hope that helps.



How would you recommend incorporating exclamation points into bulleted lists? It seems appropriate to include them even in fragmented lists that have no end punctuation on other lines. What is your sense?


Geoff, it is hard to imagine using an exclamation at the end of a bullet point, if the other points don't have end punctuation. Maybe in parentheses?


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