Business Writing Tip #46—Bullets

When you’re using bulleted lists it is important to keep the grammar consistent.bullet

Usually a bulleted list is introduced by a phrase. The text after the bullet should combine with the phrase to form a coherent whole.

On our holiday we

  • Visited the National Museum.
  • Spent time on the beach.
  • Walked in the mountains.
  • Eating lots of good food.
  • Visiting friends.

The last two bullets should read:

  • Ate lots of good food.
  • Visited friends.

You might be talking about an upcoming meeting. At the meeting we are going to discuss

  • The work schedule for the next two weeks.
  • Resource allocation for the new project.
  • Plans for the team building activity next week.

You will often see a colon (:) after the initial phrase. When the text after the bullet combines with that phrase to form a sentence that doesn’t require a colon, don’t use one. Also, put a full stop at the end of each bullet.

Here are two examples of how the bullets work as sentences from the text above.

On our holiday we visited the National Museum.

At the meeting we are going to discuss the work schedule for the next two weeks.

When the phrase introduces a list and the bullets don’t combine with the introductory text to form a sentence, use a colon, and avoid putting a full stop at the end of each bullet.

The successful candidate will have the following qualities:

  • Strong written and oral communication skills
  • Ability to manage own workload
  • Demonstrated decision-making skills

I hope that’s clear. It’s one of writing’s finer points…you will see many variations. In the end It really all comes down to consistency. For me, the rules help…

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