Skip to content

Quick Test: Can You Tighten These Bullet Points?

Today a business service I use sent me a bulleted list of updates. Every single bullet point starts with the contraction We've or We're. Those unnecessary words not only stretch out the bullets. They pull the focus away from the essential content. Also, the sentence format encourages wordiness. 

Below are the bulleted list and the text that came before and after it. How would you edit the information to make it tighter and more sharply focused? To test yourself, copy the content into another screen to edit it. Then compare your edits with mine, which appear far below. 

Updates include:

  • We’re updating the list of items that will not be eligible for purchase protection or seller protection.
  • We’re revising the set-off rights by removing the 180-day past due requirement.
  • We’re updating our list of restricted activities.
  • We’re notifying you of the movement and processing of information to cloud-based service providers.
  • We’ve updated the "Payment Method Used for My Transaction" section to describe changes that give you more control and choice in how you want to pay.
  • We’re changing some of the fees we charge.

These changes, along with the others detailed on our Policy Updates Page, will become effective March 29, 2017. 




















How many words did you cut? I got the word count down from 104 to 71 words–a 30 percent reduction! 











Compare your revision with mine. 


Check our Policy Updates Page for details on these changes, which become effective March 29, 2017: 

  • Updates to items that will not be eligible for purchase protection or seller protection
  • Removal of the 180-day past due requirement in set-off rights
  • Updates to our list of restricted activities
  • Movement of information and its processing to cloud-based service providers
  • Changes that give you more control and choice in how you pay
  • Fee changes


What a difference! 

Were your changes similar to mine? I spent about 10 minutes on my revision. That may seem like a long time to edit. But if we had begun with a better draft, editing it would have been faster.  

If you don't have time to edit, consider hiring my partner Scribendi. They provide fast, accurate editing services. 

Would you like to take your business writing to the next level? Enroll in my online course Business Writing Tune-Up. The free trial will help you decide whether the course is a good fit for you. 

Grammarly checked and approved this blog post. Try it for free

Syntax Training

Posted by Avatar photo
By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English.

6 comments on “Quick Test: Can You Tighten These Bullet Points?”

  • Great post (as always), thank you Lynn! I noticed you removed the period at the end of each bulleted sentence in your revised version. Is that a rule?

  • I got mine down to 55 words!

    We’re updating our policies effective March 29, 2017. Highlights include:
    •Changes to items eligible for purchase or seller protection
    •Removing 180-day past due requirement on set-off rights
    •Revised list of restricted activities
    •Details on new cloud-based service providers
    •More control and choices for paying
    •New fee structure
    See our Policy Updates Page for full details.

  • Hello Cassie, Tamara, Enrique, and Stacy,

    I’m glad you liked this exercise. I see many bulleted lists with similar problems–I hope you will spread the word to help people recognize how much better their bullet points can be.

    Enrique, I removed the periods because my revised bullets are not sentences, and they don’t complete the stem sentence structurally. See this post for more detail:

    Stacy, you win! I love how you began each bullet differently and made it so concise. “Highlights include” is brilliant.

    Everyone: I didn’t notice in the original bad list of bullets how awkward the introductory words were for the bullets. So let me point out now that “Updates include–we’re updating” is clumsy wording.

    Thanks for trying the exercise and sharing your results!


  • Thanks for the opportunity to keep practicing and keeping my skills sharp! I spent about 10 minutes as well, and with your help, learned how I could have further reduced words.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *