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Make your bullet-pointed lists more powerful

“Articles” that rely heavily on bullet-pointed lists can overwhelm readers. Their attention flags after three or four bullets. I call this “bullet fatigue.” However, you can boost the power of your lists with this tip.

Two easy steps to better lists

Knowing about bullet fatigue, you can break up an article that consists mainly of a long bullet-pointed list into separate lists. Here are the steps:

  1. Group the bullet points by topic. Make your topics narrow enough that, ideally, no more than three or four bullets apply. It’s OK to go longer if each bullet point consists of only one or two words.
  2. Write a topic sentence that introduces each group of bullet points.

Better results from your lists

The result? You end up with a multi-paragraph article that is easy for readers to skim because its topic sentences identify the focus of each group of bullet points. Your results will soar with a minimal investment of time.

Wondering about how to punctuate bullet-pointed lists?

I’ve discussed this in “How to punctuate bullet-pointed lists.

How to punctuate bullet-pointed lists

Have you ever used a bullet-pointed list in a memo, report or PowerPoint presentation? Are you punctuating your lists correctly? Or maybe you’re not as compulsive as I am about these picky points.

Anyway, here’s what one reference book, The Grammar Bible, says:

If a sentence follows the bullet, place a period at the end. Words and phrases that follow bullets need no ending punctuation. It is never necessary to place the conjunction and before the last item in a bulleted list.

Examples

Wrong

The following asset classes are used:

  • Large-cap equities,
  • Small-cap equities, and
  • U.S. Treasuries

Right

The following asset classes are used:

  • Large-cap equities
  • Small-cap equities
  • U.S. Treasuries

Does this make sense? If it doesn’t, then post a comment with a sample bullet pointed-list. I’ll give you my suggestion on how to punctuate it.

 

 

Note: This post was revised for a grammar mistake on August 29, 2012, and expanded on May 26, 2014.

Image courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.