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Formatting Bulleted Lists In Business Documents

Business documents are a critical part of successful business communication. You are engaged in discourse with professional people. These individuals and companies know their stuff. Time always seems to be in short supply. Most people are moving at the speed of the internet. Opportunities come and go at the speed on light. The attention span of your prospect is short and narrow. They will not want to spend a lot of time mining communications that encourage them to a call to action. Most of the time, detailed explanations of your product or service can appear on secondary documents. You want to give your prospect a broad overview with bulleted and numbered list. This is an important step in moving firms to a call to action.

There is a difference between a bulleted list and other documents that are longer and more formal. This is exceptionally true in the music business. There are two important documents that make professional live music successful. There is the contract. This document can be completed on one page. It is an outline of the important features of the agreement between the performer, venue and respective parties. The details are carried on the rider. The rider can be a document with many pages. It has all the details and instructions for successfully satisfying the contract. Therefore, brevity is important for moving the call to action along to become beneficial for all the parties involved.

Using bullets in your business document is important for facilitating scanning your documents quickly. Important information is meant to stand out so important people can get a quick grasp on what you are trying to sell or promote. Bullets help the reader get a grasp on the important information at a quick glance. The bullet points let the reader know what to expect and how everything is organized within the document. They are just scanning to make sure relevant topics will be presented in the document.

The organization of your bulleted list should follow a simple plan, like a call to action. Think of those bullet points as elements of a billboard. Your initial elements need to grab attention and state your business. Maybe include a brief bullet about the purpose of the document. Include a bullet about your firm and why you are the expert who is able to fulfill the respective need. Think about bulleted phrases that let the reader know how to access specific information on relevant parts of the document. This is done by having a formal document that can be referenced from the bulleted points on the bulleted document. Often, the bullets act like an index for where to find more detailed information on a brief bullet. You want to tell the reader that you have a synopsis of how your product is created and where to find this detailed information.

You can think of your bulleted list as steps in a baking process. When you want to make a cake, you are presented with a list of ingredients to prepare before you start mixing and baking. Those ingredients are like the bits of important information that you want to convey to the reader at a glance. Remember, these are short summaries of larger bodies of information that can be found elsewhere in the document.

Most text editors have obvious icons to click to start creating a bulleted list. The icon can be found on the Home ribbon in the text editor. In Word, it is an option that appears along with indent and text alignment options. After you click the bullet icon, it should open more features that let you choose styles and ways to further indent bullets. You can infinitely nest bullets, but this information is supposed to be brief and concise.

You can manually enter a bullet point line-by-line, as you create the document. Maybe, you are unsure of how you want the documented formatted. The line-by-line approach will work as an initial example for how you want the document to look. This is done by bulleting your first element and simply pressing enter at the end of the line. Most text editors will automatically start a new line that is preceded with a bullet.

There are other processes for creating your bulleted list, as well. You can list all of the important points line-by-line. When you are finished listing those most important points, highlight all of those elements and click your bullet icon. Those points will be bulleted on a primary level. If you want to nest subsequent bullets, simply hit enter at the end of the primary bullet. This will start a new primary bullet under the initial bullet; however, we are not adding a new primary bullet. Tapping the tab button will move that new line to a nested position.

Here is an example of a bulleted list:

  • Point 1 – Introduction
    • Make sure that complete sentences finish with the proper punctuation.
    • Sub point – Company History
  • Point 2 – Body, Proposal
    • Notes on Process
    • Finished Product Information
  • Point 3 – Conclusion, Call to Action
    • Prices
    • Contact Information

Beware of how your bulleted list may differ in format between different text editors and other websites. The tab key and other invisible formatting issue are not uniform across platforms. Make sure that you proof the formatting when you submit your bulleted list to printers or as an attachment. It would be a catastrophe to put a huge amount of time and work into an important document and then have it look like scrambled alphabet soup on the receiving end. Knowing how your recipient will view the document will go a long way toward any embarrassing communication with a potential prospect.

There is also the danger of falling into the bulleted black hole. This occurs when some anomaly appears while you are creating your document. These can be extremely frustrating and they destroy your concentration on the document. Clicking the undo button can help you out in this instance. If the damage is too extensive, you can select the section and delete it. You will have to start all over again, but you will know that you have removed the problem from the document.

Be careful not to deliver the reader an entire sheet of bulleted points. This document should look like the same information you would find in baking a cake; you are given the few important points in the process and then you are off to create the cake.

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By Audrey Horwitz

Audrey Horwitz holds a master's degree in communication and a bachelor's degree in business administration. She has worked with numerous companies as a content editor including Speechly, Compusignal and Wordflow. Audrey is a prolific content writer with hundreds of articles published for Medium, LinkedIn, Scoop.It and Article Valley.

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