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January 20, 2012

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David__Boughton

These rules make sense, but what about that colon in the Seattle example? Shouldn't you leave it out after the word "its"?

You haven't used a complete sentence, so I would say you can't use a colon.

Also, how can you use a capital letter in that same situation if the points are a continuation of that sentence? (Access, Moderate, Liberal))

Jeannette Paladino

Glad you wrote about this. I've always wondered which way to go so have usually used bullet points. Now I know the difference. Thanks.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi, David. We have several correct ways to handle bullet points. It is acceptable to use the colon in the example you mentioned, because the points are set off in a list. I follow "The Gregg Reference Manual" rules on colons.

As for the capitalization question, "The Chicago Manual of Style" agrees with you.

Thanks for dropping by.

Lynn

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi, Jeannette. I am glad you found these guidelines helpful.

Lynn

Business Writing and Editing at Word Nerds

Hi, Lynn.

We use a different style for bullet points in Australia. If providing business writing to the Australian market, see our linked blog post for an explanation. The style is based on minimal capitalization and punctuation.

Michael

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi, Michael. Thank you for referring us to your blog post with its excellent examples.

I was surprised to see the full stop only at the end of the final bullet when the items are fragments. That is a unique style. As you noted, writers will need to consider that style choice when writing to Australians.

Thanks for enlightening us.

Lynn

www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=734088105

Thanks for the informative piece. Two questions:
a) Where does the full stop go: behind the brackets or inside .) or .)?
b) And the question mark?
Regards,
Mutimba

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hello, Mutimba. I am surprised I have not yet blogged on that topic. I will write a post to answer your questions soon.

Thank you for asking.

Lynn

Susanfinchweb

Thank you for this, Lynn. Inconsistencies in a series of articles by a client was bugging me. You helped me give a standard rule to follow.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

I am glad to be helpful.

Lynn

Sofia

I'm reviewing a business manual with lots of bulleted lists; my concern is the use of "are" before the colon in a lead-in sentence to the list. For example:
Important items to remember are:

I read somewhere (I can't recall now) that this is incorrect; it doesn't look right to me either. Please clarify. Thanks...

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hello, Sofia. Your example is correct if it introduces a bulleted list.

It would be wrong if the list came directly after the lead-in sentence. For example, this rendering would be wrong:

Important items to remember are: tape, scissors, and markers.

My example is wrong because of the colon. A colon should not follow verbs such as "is," "are," and "includes" when the item or items after the verb are part of the sentence rather than set off in a vertical list.

I hope my explanation helps you.

Lynn

Sofia

Thanks, Lynn. What about using the lead-in sentence to list several points that are full sentences? What is the rule of thumb? Instead of listing stand-alone items following "are:", you'd be listing full sentences. For example:
The important reminders are:
-Don't forget to pick up your itinerary.
-Don't forget your identication badge.
etc.

Thanks,
Sofia

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi, Sofia. The "are" with the colon is correct. However, your example would be more concise and more focused on positive action this way:

Reminders:
--Pick up your itinerary.
--Wear your identification badge.

Lynn

Linda

Hello! Thanks for this article! What about continuing a sentence past the list? Is that allowed or not encouraged?

Ang

Thank you for posting this. I'm glad to see there's some freedom in punctuating lists, as strict punctuation can sometimes negatively affect the reading flow. I take the liberty of using a colon after the word "include" in a bulleted list because the readers expect it. What are your thoughts on this? Should I be smarter than the readers?

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hello, Linda. If I understand your question correctly, my answer is no. It would not make sense to have a stem sentence (one that introduces a list) continue after the list.

I am sorry I missed your message earlier.

Lynn

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hello, Ang. It is fine to use a colon after the word "include" to introduce a bulleted list.

Lynn

Simon Dixon

What's with this new style of putting 'and' on the second last bullet point, such as (obviously with a bullet point at the start of each point):
Key skills

Have experience within the catering industry;
Relationship management and interpersonal skills;
Project management;
Presentation skills;
Problem solving, and decision making; and
PC literate, particularly with Excel and Word.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi, Simon. Vertical lists punctuated as a sentence are not new. I consider them an old-fashioned approach. Nevertheless, certain respected style manuals recommend them as an option. (I mention the manuals in the post above.)

Lynn

Paul

What approach would you feel comfortable with if the content were PowerPoint slides? We have a dispute today as to whether the requirement for periods extends to ppt slides. Any thoughts?

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi, Paul. My reference manuals do not refer specifically to punctuating lists in PowerPoint. I recommend the guidelines I shared above.

Lynn

Carole Tee

This is exactly the information I was looking for tonight. How nice (and unexpected) for a Google search to produce something useful helpful right off the bat.

Thanks for you post,

Carole Tee

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

You are very welcome! Thanks for the positive words.

Lynn

Vero

Hi Lynn,

I was curious what your thoughts were on utilizing the ampersand versus writing out "and" in a bullet point.

Should bullet points follow the grammatical structure of the preceding content?

Thank you,
Vero T.

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