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Bullet Point Your Research Paper: A How-To Guide

As the demand for college and university-level research papers grows, so too does the need for effective strategies to help students break down their written work into manageable pieces. One approach that is gaining traction among instructors and tutors alike is bullet point organization of a research paper. This method allows students to present information more concisely while still conveying enough detail in order to effectively support any argument or position they are trying to make. In this article, we will provide an overview of what bullet pointing involves and how it can be used as part of successful paper composition. We will also provide tips on making sure points are chosen wisely when constructing your essay structure with bullets, along with some useful techniques for enhancing readability through proper formatting conventions such as font size and spacing guidelines. Finally, we’ll offer advice on troubleshooting common issues related to presenting one’s writing using this style so that you can confidently submit papers which have been organized clearly via bulleted lists – no matter what assignment or academic setting you find yourself in!

1. Introduction to Bullet Pointing Research Papers

2. benefits of bullet pointing in writing processes, 3. strategies for effective bulletin point creation, 4. examples of well-formatted and cohesive bulleted points, 5. pitfalls to avoid when structuring bullets in a paper, 6. tips for paragraph development after listing points, 7. conclusion: utilizing bullets as an organizational tool.

Unleashing the Power of Bullet Points in Research Papers

Bullet points have become indispensable tools for expressing ideas and structuring content. With their succinct format, they can quickly summarize key concepts or arguments within research papers. While some academics regard bullet pointing as an oversimplification of complex material, when used effectively, it’s a powerful way to organize information into bite-sized chunks that are easier to digest.

At its core, the purpose of bullet point research is to provide clarity and facilitate understanding among readers by breaking up long texts with shorter points. They also help guide readers through different sections so they don’t get lost in meandering explanations and convoluted syntaxes – something which could easily be avoided with judicious use of bullets! So yes – can research papers have bullet points? . Absolutely! Not only do they make your paper look more organized but also communicate your thoughts better than sentences alone ever could.

Organization and Presentation of Ideas Bullet pointing is an effective writing tool for organizing ideas, which can help writers present complex information in a digestible manner. The structure allows readers to quickly skim over the text while still grasping important points without getting lost in details. This makes bullet-pointed paragraphs ideal when summarizing facts or providing quick overviews.

Moreover, bullets allow writers to connect pieces of information that might not have been otherwise related into categories, making them easier for readers to remember and absorb. Not only does this make it simpler to track concepts within texts but also highlights the most salient aspects of any given topic allowing readers to concentrate on more significant elements instead of wasting time with trivial details.

In terms of academic papers, researchers are often advised against using lists unless absolutely necessary due to their informal nature; however, there are instances where including some form bullets may improve readability such as when presenting survey results or numerical data. When used judiciously they can be beneficial by creating visual breaks between sections helping organize large chunks of content into manageable bitesize segments – something particularly useful during long-form assignments like dissertations or research papers.

Prioritize Points

Creating effective bullet points begins with prioritizing the most essential information. All topics should be given due consideration and weighted against each other. What is more important to emphasize in a research paper? Picking out key talking points can help readers understand the material quickly and easily, without overwhelming them with too much detail.

Organization is critical for creating memorable bullets that make an impression on viewers. Clarity must come first before aesthetic considerations are made about font type or size, as well as images or multimedia elements placed alongside them. It’s also worth considering if all parts of a topic will need bullet points or if some ideas can be explained further through text-based explanation; either way it’s important not to clutter up the page with too many bullets at once.

Balance Detail & Brevity

  • Research papers often contain dry facts and technical language – but do these really have to appear in their plainest form within bullet lists?
  • It helps to think of each point as having its own personality which comes from being able to capture complex ideas into concise words.

By using creative phrasing while still preserving meaning, content creators can craft captivating yet informative writing – especially when done right this provides an engaging entrypoint into understanding any subject matter no matter how complicated it may seem initially.

Bulleted points are a great way to add organization and structure to any type of document. They can be used in research papers, newsletters, brochures, webpages and other documents as they provide readers with an easy-to-read format that breaks down complex information into smaller chunks. When using bulleted points it is important to ensure that the content within each point is cohesive and well formatted for maximum impact.

Using Cohesive Points: To create effective bullet points it’s important that all of the items listed have some sort of common thread running through them so the reader doesn’t feel confused or overwhelmed by having too much unconnected material presented at once. For example if you were writing about different types of chocolate chip cookies then each point should contain relevant details like ingredients used, baking time required etc., rather than unrelated facts such as calorie counts or serving suggestions which could confuse readers who weren’t expecting these sorts of details included in your list.

  • Chocolate Chip Cookies – 1/2 cup butter; 2/3 cup sugar; 1 egg…

Formatting Your Content: Additionally when creating bullet points make sure everything looks neat by formatting correctly including capitalizing words where appropriate, adding punctuation marks after each item on the list and not making individual entries run over multiple lines – unless absolutely necessary due to word count restrictions.

For instance instead of saying “chocolate chip cookie recipe contains Butter Sugar Egg Vanilla Extract Flour Baking Soda Salt” you’d want to write out something like this.

  • “Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe – Contains : Butter , Sugar , Egg , Vanilla Extract , Flour , Baking Soda & Salt .”

. This makes your work appear more professional while also helping break up difficult concepts into easier pieces for better understanding!

In conclusion yes research papers can include bulleted lists but bear in mind both cohesion among points as well as proper formatting rules must be adhered too for best results.

When structuring bullets within an academic paper, there are certain pitfalls that should be avoided for the most effective communication of ideas and research outcomes. The following tips will help you keep your writing clear and concise while also avoiding common errors.

The first mistake to avoid is using too many bullet points – this can quickly make the text seem cluttered or disorganized. It’s important to use bullet points judiciously; often, two or three well-structured sentences may convey more information than a lengthy list of bullets would. Additionally, it’s worth noting that while some instructors allow them in their papers, not all do – so it pays to check with yours before including any! Lastly, avoid treating each bullet as if its own individual paragraph – instead think of them as subheadings which organize long blocks of copy into manageable sections.

  • For example:

Bullets can add structure when discussing complex topics by breaking down long texts into shorter parts – but they shouldn’t be overused and should always fit logically into the overall narrative arc being created by your paper. Can Research Papers Have Bullet Points? Yes – provided that they follow specific formatting guidelines such as keeping bullets relatively brief (three lines maximum)and only using relevant information pertaining directly to your topic at hand. If used correctly, then yes–research papers can certainly benefit from organized lists!

Developing the Paragraphs: Once the points are listed, it’s important to build on them and develop each idea within a paragraph. This is done by linking the information from one point with that of another in order to create sentences which flow naturally together. The transition words used should be relevant and help keep readers engaged in reading further. Additionally, providing supportive details for every argument presented is essential; this can include quotes from reliable sources or statistics related to an issue discussed in the paper.

Another helpful strategy when developing paragraphs after listing points is using bullet points if they fit better than plain text – some research papers may benefit from having clearly outlined ideas more so than lengthy descriptive passages. Be sure to use consistent font sizes for any bullets as well as indentation spacing between them – these will make key concepts easier for readers to comprehend quickly without disrupting their overall understanding of your paper’s main arguments.

Bullet Points: Streamlining Content for Improved Comprehension

The utilization of bullet points is an effective tool when it comes to presenting data and information in a more organized manner. It helps keep track of the various topics being discussed, as well as guiding readers through essential facts and conclusions easily. Bullets are especially useful in research papers where there is often too much detail included that could otherwise be overwhelming for readers to digest all at once. In addition, they allow researchers to present their findings succinctly without having to sacrifice clarity or context.

By utilizing bullets, authors can make sure their paper stands out from others by providing a clear structure and concise style that makes the content easier on the eyes while still retaining its value. Furthermore, this organization technique enables them to organize sections into subsections more effectively – something which may not always be possible with paragraphs alone since many times these tend towards lengthy digressions rather than straightforward statements of fact.

Can research papers have bullet points? Absolutely! Bullet points should never replace full sentences nor do away with important explanations or arguments but they can certainly supplement written text by helping convey complex ideas quickly and efficiently – something particularly valuable when dealing with long academic essays like those typically found in peer-reviewed publications!

English: This guide to bullet point research paper writing has provided an in-depth examination of the structure and organization that can make this process easier. By following these steps, writers will be able to produce concise yet effective papers with a well-crafted flow and thoughtful presentation of information. Furthermore, they may even find themselves inspired by the creative ways in which bullet points allow them to present their ideas. For those seeking further assistance with formatting or general academic writing skills, additional resources are available for consultation.

Using Bullet Points ( • )

series of bullet points

Want to communicate some important information in writing? If you want your reader to easily navigate the content, you might want to use some bullet points.

What are bullet points?

Bullet points are symbols that mark items in a list. Most of the time they look like this: •

  • Bullet points (also called simply “bullets”) draw the reader’s attention.
  • They provide an easy way for you to present the most important ideas.
  • The information following each bullet should be brief: you want a person to be able to understand the content quickly.

When to Use Bullet Points

Use bullet points when the information you want to provide can be presented in the form of a list. They can be used in both formal and informal writing.

What a Bulleted List Should Look Like

Here are some features of a bulleted list:

  • A bulleted list is typically preceded by some introductory words that tell the reader what they’re in for, as done in the sentence above.
  • The bullet points should have the same basic structure, i.e., they should all be complete sentences, or all be phrases or single words; they should not be a mix.
  • If bullet points are in sentence form, they should begin with a capital and end with punctuation.
  • If bullet points are in phrase form, they don’t need ending punctuation and can begin with a capital or lowercase letter.
  • Bullet points should be about the same length; you don’t want one to be super short, while the others are all long.
  • You can use any symbol: dots, squares, or something else (as long as it doesn’t distract from the points you are making).

The bulleted list above was all sentences; here is an example of a phrase-based bulleted list, informing you that the word bullet :

  • first referred to the missile-fired-from-a-firearm kind of bullet
  • has been used in English since the late 16th century
  • is from the Middle French words boulette , meaning “small ball,” and boulet , meaning “missile”
  • has referred to the symbol(s) addressed in this article since the mid 20th century
  • has appeared in the longer term bullet point since the early 1980s

Note that in this second bulleted list, each item completes the sentence begun in the introductory text. Consistency is important: use all complete sentences, or all phrases that complete part of the introduction.

Shortcuts and How to Type Bullet Points

How you insert bullet points depends on what word processing format or program you’re using. In Microsoft Word, Google docs, Gmail, Outlook and other PC email and word processing programs, look for the symbol that is three horizontal lines preceded by squares or dots. In Word, this symbol is in the Paragraph section under the Home tab.

There’s a Word shortcut too: Ctrl + Shift + L.

In Google docs the symbol is on the main navigation page. The Google/Gmail shortcut is Ctrl + Shift + 8.

In Apple, use the Format sidebar to find the Style button; click the Bullets & Lists menu near the bottom of the sidebar. The Apple shortcut is Cmd + Shift + 8.

Bullet Indents

Note that the bullet points will be inserted at an indented point. If you want the bullet point to be further indented, put your cursor just before the first letter of the first item and hit the tab key. If you want an item in your bulleted list to be indented further (maybe you want to have a sub-item or two under an item), put your cursor just before the first letter of the sub-item and hit the tab key.

Choosing Bullets

You can choose from a basic selection of bullet points at the basic three horizontal lines icon by clicking on the arrow beside it. In some programs, such as Microsoft Word, you can also add other symbols to use as bullet points. Go to “Define new bullet” and select from the options there. You can also copy a bullet symbol • and paste it into your document.

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Using Bullet Points

How to write bullets points correctly.

using bullet points effectively

Create Parallel Lists (Use the Same Type of Word)

  • Bathing in the river.
  • Driving in the town.
  • The local tapas bar.

Examples of Parallel Bullet Points

  • Maintaining fire alarms and extinguishers.
  • Training staff in CPR.
  • Training staff how to use a defibrillator.
  • Conducting routine fire-safety inspections.
  • Complete the online data-storage course.
  • Confirm your contact details with your line manager.
  • Remove all personal items from their desks.
  • Acquire a system log-in from the IT Support Desk.
  • Tenacious in the pursuit of sales targets.
  • Robust in the face of rejection.
  • Determined to improve.
  • Able to withstand pressure.
  • Enthusiastic at all times.

Consistent Formatting with Bullet Points

Capital letter and a period (full stop).

  • Egg-and-spoon race.
  • Toss the pancake.
  • Apple bobbing.

Lowercase Letters and No End Mark

  • egg-and-spoon race
  • toss the pancake
  • apple bobbing

Punctuate Like a Sentence

  • egg-and-spoon race,
  • toss the pancake, and
  • apple bobbing.

Punctuate Like a Sentence with Semicolons

  • egg-and-spoon race;
  • toss the pancake; and

Be Consistent!

wrong cross

Be Logical!

colon logic error on mouthwash bottle

Don't Introduce Your List with a Semicolon

  • Eating in the local tapas bar.

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  • Writing Tips

How to Punctuate Bullet Points Correctly

How to Punctuate Bullet Points Correctly

4-minute read

  • 20th January 2023

Bullet points are wonderful. They can help with concision, getting points across, and the organization of your text. However, poorly punctuated and formatted bullet point lists can have the opposite effect.

Punctuating bullet points correctly is something that often comes up in workplaces, academia, and beyond, and there’s a lot of conflicting information out there that has caused confusion.

So, in this blog post, we’re telling you everything you need to know, including what bullet points are, the basic rules of formatting them, how to punctuate them, mistakes to avoid, and tips for consistency and clarity.

What Are Bullet Points and How Are They Used?

Bullet points are used to format a list, with each list item being preceded by a bullet point (•). Here’s an example:

Things to do before the baby comes: ●  I need to paint the nursery. ●  John needs to assemble the cot. ●  I need to buy and fit a car seat. ●  We need to pick a name. ●  I’ll want to read some baby books.

Bullet points can be used to structure any list and are usually used to break up long blocks of text, highlight key points, or summarize text.

How to Punctuate Bullet Points

The first thing to do is check whether your style guide has anything to say about punctuating bullet points. If it does, then follow its instructions.

If no guidance has been provided, here is a commonly used and logical method of punctuating bullet points. The important thing is consistency; once you have settled on an approach, stick to it!

Capitalize the first letter of the first word of each bullet point, putting the remainder in sentence case (i.e., as if you were writing a normal sentence).

Next, decide whether to use punctuation at the end of each bullet point item.

Do use punctuation at the end:

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  • If your bullet point list is made up of full sentences.
  • If your list item is phrased as a question.

Here, the punctuation could be a period (.), a question mark (?), or an exclamation point (!). Whichever you choose will depend on your item and what you’re trying to convey.

Apart from the last bullet, don’t use punctuation at the end:

  • If your list
  • Short sentence fragments

Note that it is common to still capitalize the first word in the bullet (although style guides may vary).

Using these rules, we could rephrase the bullet point list mentioned above to avoid using punctuation:

Things to do before the baby comes: ●  Paint the nursery ●  Assemble the cot ●  Buy and fit a car seat ●  Pick a name ●  Read the baby books.

Common Issues to Avoid When Punctuating Bullet Points

If you can, avoid using full sentences and sentence fragments interchangeably, as it can make your lists challenging to read and looks messy on the page. If you do need to use a mixture, common practice is to treat the punctuation as if each bullet is a full sentence (i.e., to include punctuation at the end).

Consider how you want to punctuate sub-bullets, as this can be a bit of a minefield. The most straightforward way is to follow the approach given above (although some guides may recommend that you end sub-bullets with semi-colons and “and,”, as in a list). You can introduce the sub bullet with a colon.

Sub bullet points should be formatted with different styling and further indented alignment.

Tips For Consistency

As mentioned above, consistency is crucial. Erratic formatting and punctuation can look like an error, even if the inconsistency is technically correct in isolation.

For example, if you make the stylistic choice not to include punctuation at the end of your bullet points, but then use punctuation in a different list in the same document, it will look like you’ve made a proofreading mistake.

So, regardless of how you choose to lay out your bullet points, ensure that the formatting is consistent. To ensure absolute consistency, if your style guide doesn’t cover this issue already, we advise that you use and expand on the approach we have given above. These simple steps will help you use bullet points effectively to organize and highlight important information in your writing. If you need further support with formatting bullet points, our team of experts is ready to help and will proofread your first 500 words for free!

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How to Use Bullet Lists and Number Lists in a Research Paper

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Academic articles often include lists, which organize the material and provide the reader with a quick overview of a section. There are different ways to format lists, but some general principles apply to all of them: they should be constructed in a parallel fashion, and they should be consistent. Numbers, letters, and bullet points are not required in all cases. Academic writers who use The Chicago Manual of Style will find various formats there, but four common list formats are presented here.

Types of List Formats

Run-in lists.

A run-in list, as the name suggests, is included as part of the general text. Elements can be separated in different ways, as shown in the examples below.

Separated with a Colon:   When a complete sentence is followed by a list of items, separate the sentence from the list with a colon.

E.g. “ Do not venture into the wilderness without these items: a knife, a book of matches, a flashlight, and a map. ”

Separated with Numbers:  When the list is part of the sentence, you can separate the items by numbering them.

E.g. “ The Housing Committee passed resolutions on (1) annual salaries, (2) fundraising efforts, and (3) community building. ”

Related: Need instant academic writing tips on your cell phone? Download the FREE Enago Academy mobile app now!

Vertical Lists

A vertical list should be preceded by a complete sentence that gives an overview of the points being listed. The list does not need to have a bullet point format and a punctuation mark is not at the end of the entries. For example:

Your admissions packet should include these items:

The three-page statement of purpose

The financial questionnaire

Your contact information

If the lead-in sentence is a complete one and all entries in the list are complete sentences, a punctuation mark should follow each entry. For example (using bullet points):

Make perfect banana bread every time by following these easy steps:

  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  • Grease an 8 x 8 baking dish.
  • Combine all the dry ingredients (listed above).
  • Gently fold in the wet ingredients (listed above).
  • Pour the batter into the dish and bake for 45 minutes.

Again, note that because each entry in the list is a complete sentence, a final period is used.

Vertical Lists Punctuated as a Sentence

When a list is too long or convoluted to be presented as one sentence, you can use a vertical list that is punctuated like a sentence. This format is especially useful when the phrases include internal punctuations or the reader might find it difficult to follow the meaning. An example follows below.

Biology instructors have made significant changes to their curricula and classrooms, and today it is common to find

  • innovative research techniques, especially those requiring knowledge of anatomy, in labs;
  • greater focus on teamwork;
  • in-class lectures customized for learning styles; and
  • bilingual lesson plans.

Vertical Lists with Subdivided Items

A complex vertical list may be formatted in a way that resembles an outline, using numbers and letters to provide a logical structure. The lead-in (introductory) line should be a complete sentence, as seen in the example below.

Students should be prepared to discuss the following topics:

  • Regional History
  • Geography and landmarks
  • Erosion in mountainous areas
  • Notable Figures
  • The first tribal chieftains
  • The emergence of political divisions and leaders
  • The role of women
  • Cultural Developments
  • The spread of language
  • Music used to bind communities

The next time you read a research paper , look for lists and examine how they were constructed. Do the entries use a consistent format? Are the numbers and/or letters correctly placed and in the proper order? Is the lead-in line a complete sentence? If you find that these steps are all present, chances are that the author took the time to research the structure of lists and present them accurately. Now you can do the same.


  • Get It Write. Handling Vertical Lists.  Retrieved from

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What Are Bullet Points ( • ) And How Do You Use Them?

  • What Is A Bullet Point?
  • When To Use Them
  • How To Use Them
  • Try Grammar Coach

Everybody likes lists. Nobody likes long, confusing lists. And that’s why we use bullet points to gather up major points or items and organize them neatly into a list. However, bullet points are just a tool in the toolbox; it is still up to the each writer to know how to use them to make a list or summary that is concise and easy to follow. While proper bullet point usage often relies heavily on a style guide, there are some general tips to ensure our bullet points always hit the mark.

can an assignment have bullet points

What is a bullet point ?

A bullet point is a symbol that is used in writing to introduce an item in a list. A commonly used symbol to represent a bullet point is a centered dot (•), but many different symbols and characters can be used in bullet point lists. Sometimes, bulleted lists even use numbers and/or letters.

✏️ Example usage of bullet points

The following example shows how a list with bullet points might appear in writing:

The experiment studied how children reacted differently to a variety of Halloween monsters. There were several major takeaways from the study :

  • Werewolves were consistently rated to be the scariest monsters.
  • Ugly vampires were typically said to be scarier than other types of vampires.
  • Zombies scored higher scariness ratings with young girls than with young boys.
  • Clowns, despite being a control group, scored unexpectedly high scariness ratings.

When do you use bullet points?

In writing, bullet points are typically only used in lists. In general, formal writing reserves bulleted lists for certain situations, such as the quick presentation of important information or to efficiently summarize a writer’s major points. In informal writing, bulleted lists can be used for a wide variety of reasons, such as presenting a list of ingredients or giving step-by-step directions on how to do something.

This means that you’ll need to use your own judgment on when a list with bullet points might be the best way to present information. In general, bulleted lists are helpful when you want to quickly and efficiently give a reader important information. In formal writing, it is usually recommended to not overuse bulleted lists and save them for when you really need to capture an audience’s attention.

The following examples show just some of the different ways we might use lists with bullet points in different pieces of writing:


Bullet points are useful for summarizing a longer, more complicated argument or topic. For example:

In conclusion, dogs clearly make better pets than cats.  In this thesis paper, I have argued that :

  • dogs are good pets, while cats are nefarious troublemakers
  • dogs live up to their moniker of “man’s best friend,” while cats merely tolerate humans at best
  • dogs can perform a variety of useful jobs for society, while cats are unapologetic freeloaders 

With these major points in mind, dogs clearly are the superior pet .

Highlighting major points

Bullet points can neatly order a writer’s major pints. For example:

After reading this guide to computers, you will be able to 

  • create folders and files
  • set up an internet connection
  • connect your computer to wireless devices
  • navigate all of the programs that come with your operating system
  • install and use virus protection software

List of items

Bullet points are useful or organizing lists. For example:

In order to make this recipe, you will need :

  • strawberries
  • cocoa powder
  • cream cheese

Pssst. Are you a writing rebel? We’ll tell you which grammar rules were meant to be broken.

Bullet points can help organize detailed instructions or directions. For example:

In order to reach the museum from Main Street, follow these directions exactly :

  • Drive south and turn left onto 2nd Street
  • Drive two miles, then merge onto Interstate 12
  • Drive ten miles, then take exit 17a
  • Pass the third intersection, then take the second right
  • Look for the museum on your right after passing the giant inflatable gorilla

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How to use bullet points

In general, the formatting and rules of bulleted lists will depend heavily on the style guide that you use. Style guides often have specific rules regarding indentation, margins, capitalization, punctuation, and which symbols to use as bullet points. As always, it is best to follow whatever rules are listed in the style guide you use. If you don’t use a particular style guide, it is best to at least stay consistent with whatever formatting you decide to use.

If not using a style guide, there are some general recommendations common among writing resources:

1. It is recommended to introduce a bulleted list with an introductory sentence or headline.

2. Punctuation is typically reserved for complete sentences. For example, the following bulleted list uses sentence fragments:

  • a little bit of fog

This list, on the other hand, uses complete sentences:

  • Students will sit in Section B.
  • Arena staff will sit in the front three rows.
  • VIPs may sit wherever they please.
  • All audience members must remain seated for the entirety of the performance.

3. In general, complete sentences are usually capitalized. Sentence fragments may or may not be capitalized depending on the writer.

4. It is commonly recommended that the elements of a bulleted list be relatively the same length.

5. Each bullet should begin with the same part of speech: verb, adjective, noun, etc.

6. Numbers/letters are used when the order of the items matters or when the list will refer to other specific entries in the list.

However, none of these recommendations are established rules of using bulleted lists. In general, you can use whatever format you like when using a bulleted list—if not following a style guide, of course. The important thing is to remain consistent and try to stick to a format that isn’t difficult for an audience to read or follow.

Take this quiz to see how much you know about bullet points and other typographical symbols.

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How to Write Bullet Points People Actually Want to Read

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There are countless reasons why you’ll want to learn how to write bullet points.

Blog posts, tweets, and tens of thousands of images pinned to digital boards are flying past us faster than we can read them.

Faster than we can even scan them, depending on the time of day.

What does this mean for writers trying to cut through it all with attention grabbing techniques ? At least two things that I can think of:

  • You’d better know how to write  magnetic headlines .
  • You’d better know how to write bullet points that grab (and keep) attention.

We’re not telling you to keep your copy short. We’re telling you to keep your copy readable .

What are bullet points?

Bullet points are used to list out items in your content.

They help you effectively communicate your message because they capture the attention of readers who prefer scannable content . Think about it … scanners love bullet points, right?

A bulleted list can also break up long blocks of text, and the intriguing phrases you use in your bullet points are opportunities to turn scanners into readers.

Like it or not, they keep people engaged with your blog posts, pages, articles, and copy for your online business ideas like nothing else.

Let’s take a quick look at how to get this done, and get it done well.

The basics of writing bullet points that work

The essence of a great bullet is brevity + promise.

Brevity has been a hallmark of good writing since writing began, but everyone currently possesses an acute awareness of just how important brevity is right now.

Long, complex bullet points would defeat the purpose of writing bullets at all — to keep your reader moving through your copy.

Promise is the element that hooks your reader like a fish. You’re making a plain and legitimate claim that your product/idea/service will give them what they’ve been looking for.

Goes without saying (but of course I’m going to say it anyway), you absolutely must deliver on the promise you make .

There are probably faster ways of ruining your credibility and career, but not giving your reader what you promised is definitely in the top three.

Brian Clark wrote the definitive “ Bullet Points 101 ” post more than 10 years ago.

And, since I’d rather straight-up steal from Clark than try to outwrite him in this area, here’s his five-part summary of when to use bullet points, as well as what an effective bullet point is and does.

A bullet expresses a clear benefit and promise to the reader

That’s right … they’re mini-headlines.

Bullets encourage the scanning reader to go back into the real meat of your content, or go forward with your call to action.

Keep your bullet points symmetrical if possible

Meaning, one line each, two lines each, etc. It’s easier on the eyes and therefore easier on the reader.

Avoid bullet clutter at all costs

Do not get into a detailed outline jumble of subtitles, bullets, and sub-bullets. Bullets are designed for clarity, not confusion.

Practice parallelism

Keep your bullet groups thematically related, begin each bullet with the same part of speech, and maintain the same grammatical form.

Remember that bullets (like headlines) are not necessarily sentences

If you want to write complete sentences, stick with a paragraph or a numbered list.

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Punctuation in bulleted lists

Since the text that comes after a bullet point shouldn’t look like a paragraph, you might be wondering about how to handle punctuation in bulleted lists.

It depends on the type of bullets that you write, but the key is to keep your punctuation consistent. Your bullet points should more or less be the same style and length.

Do you capitalize bullet points?

You can capitalize the first word that follows a bullet point in your content.

However, if each of your bullet points is only one word, you could keep the letters all lowercase.

Again, whichever style you choose, just make sure you’re consistent throughout your text.

Should bullet points have periods?

If your bullet points end up being short sentences, you’ll want to add periods after each one. In this case, you see why you’d capitalize the first word after a bullet point.

If the bullet points are just short phrases or incomplete sentences, they don’t need periods.

Now that we’re standing on a firm foundation, let’s move into how to actually write these bullets.

8 examples of bullet points that work

You may have seen writers complain about the proliferation of “listicles” in recent years.

The thing is, the elitists don’t know what they’re talking about. Again, in this fast, short, and constantly evolving digital world, she who makes sense first, wins.

And one of the best ways to make sense of content ideas — especially online — is not to dumb them down; it’s to break them up into digestible chunks.

Bullet points can be a great way to do that — but don’t just rely on the stale, simplistic bullet point types you’re using now.

Expand your range and add these to your toolbox when you’re writing copy .

1. External fascinations

These types of fascinating bullet points are usually found in sales copy. They create curiosity and work like headlines to prompt a purchase or other action.

2. Internal fascinations

Internal fascinations are pretty much identical to external, except they’re designed to persuade people to continue reading the post they’re already reading.

3. Bullet chunking

Extracting bullets out of compound sentences helps you drive home a point while also increasing the usability of your content.

4. Authority bullets

Authority bullets are used to recite the data and proof that support your argument. As with all persuasive writing, turn dry factual information into interesting reading any time you can.

5. Cliffhanger bullets

Cliffhanger bullets tease and foreshadow what’s coming up next or in the near future. You can also use cliffhanger bullets to lay the groundwork for an upcoming promotion, launch, or special content event.

And — as a little bonus about how to write bullet points — Ben Settle expanded on Brian’s post with a few more examples of his own.

Here’s a few of Ben’s favorite bullet point secrets .

6. Give-away bullets

These are sort of like the lady who hands out cheese cubes at the grocery store.

She gives people a little “taste” of food that keeps them alert and shopping — and many times they end up with the thing they tasted in the shopping cart.

7. Expansion bullets

These bullets break up the “sameness” of the page (when you have several pages of bullets), and they add more tease, demonstration, and curiosity.

Plus, they give a nice little “loop” effect to your ad that keeps sucking the reader back in.

8. “Can’t be done” bullets

Basically, this is where you say something that is almost unbelievable.

Something 100% true, but that is so wacky and “out there” it makes you say, “How in the heck can you do that?”

Congratulations, you now know more about how to write bullet points than most working copywriters .

And here’s the simplest shortcut to jump start you in the art of the bullet …

Try this simple shortcut for writing bullet points that work

Craft each bullet as if it were to serve as your your headline.

The goal here is to achieve, uh … headlineability with each bullet.

You won’t achieve perfection with each and every bullet you write, but if you stick to this principle generally , writing them gets much easier over time.

And, more importantly, those beautiful little bulleted lines will keep your readers running down your page like water on a slide.

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Robert Bruce

Robert Bruce files unusually short stories to the Internet daily, from an undisclosed location near you. Good luck.

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Reader Interactions

Reader comments (60).

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February 7, 2012 at 6:30 am

Nice tips. Great bullet points make for compelling lists and to the point articles.

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February 7, 2012 at 9:14 am

Okay – fine – you got me! I actually learned something from this. AND, me, the notorious bullet point shooter-downer, I am actually convinced that bullet points might just work in my own website copy, IF I could learn to implement a few of these strategies.

Now could I just make one teensy little suggestion? Could you make your links open in a new window? I’d like to read the articles you suggest – later. Thank you!

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February 7, 2012 at 11:56 am

Michelle, a counter-suggestion, right-click on the links (you can even do it on a Mac now, yay) and you can choose to open in a new tab or a new window. Some users love opening new windows and some hate it, so we let the reader decide for herself. 🙂

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February 7, 2012 at 6:05 pm

This reader absolutely loves that option, Sonia! 🙂

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February 7, 2012 at 10:41 am

Great post! You kept your promise and taught me something that was factual, gave evidence to support your claim and overdelivered on your promise to deliver great content by providing several more links to other resources supporting the post. Awesome!…but you knew that.

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February 7, 2012 at 11:14 am

Nice post, Jeff. Hey, I just posted a post to my own post. Dammit. I hate these foggy early mornings. What? It’s afternoon?

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February 7, 2012 at 11:58 am

I transcribe, by hand outstanding bullet points to index cards. I have a about 300, mostly harvested from high converting, long form sales letters from Halbert, Pagan, Carlson and the like. There is definitely a rhythm to writing good bullet points. I feel when it when I’m transcribing.

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February 7, 2012 at 11:59 am

THANK YOU! Great article and I really appreciate the detailed explanations and links to further information!

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February 7, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Is it me or did anyone else find it odd that a post about bullet points contained no bullet points? Good article 🙂

February 7, 2012 at 2:24 pm

It did, but they had numbers instead of bullets. 🙂

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February 7, 2012 at 2:28 pm

Didn’t realize there was so much to know about using bulleted posts. Each one like a headline – that’s a great point I’ll have to practice. Awesome post. Great links – I’ll be coming back to this one over and over.

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February 7, 2012 at 3:07 pm

I admit it — I love bullet points & blockquotes. . . anything to make a blog post look more interesting.

February 7, 2012 at 7:19 pm

Subheads are great as well. 🙂 Breaking that page up really helps readers stay tuned in.

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February 7, 2012 at 5:02 pm

I love bullet points! There’s a good reason why you see them everywhere. They work! They work even better than storytelling does IMO. Thank you for a post with good, usable insights on them.

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February 7, 2012 at 5:36 pm

Who would have thought writing great bullet points would be * So detailed * So nuanced, and * So powerful Thanks for a post that is going to my evernote file:)

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February 7, 2012 at 11:25 pm

I’m so glad I came across this article. I never know what to write when I’m on Twitter or Facebook lol This article makes it seem so easy. All I need to do is remember to write a great heading, and use bullet points. Couldn’t be anymore simple, thanks so much 🙂

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February 7, 2012 at 11:54 pm

Super helpful post.

I feel the focus on benefits is uber critical. Some bullet into features. Nope. You think in terms of benefits, not features. Focus on points which move people emotionally, to want to learn more, continue reading the post and take your call to action. Enter benefits.

The can’t be done bullets vibe strongly with me. Any point which makes people think is a powerful point, any point which is a head scratcher. It’s like an instant hook, pulling readers in to learn more, dig more.

Thanks for sharing your insight Robert.

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February 8, 2012 at 3:15 am

I know bullet points are great…I’ve always known that. But the proliferation of posts which are nothing but bullet points can be really exhausting. So I’ve tried to stay off that. But with this post, I think I will actually try it now. What I got from this is that it’s actually possible to write a post of bullet points that teaches and informs. Thanks for writing this.

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February 8, 2012 at 12:33 pm

I agree, Sharon. Bullet points are like salt: they should be used sparingly, and only when needed. They’re great for quickly explaining certain things, and break up a long page of text nicely; but we shouldn’t forget about things like headings or even simple paragraph breaks — both of which Robert’s article uses well.

Certainly some great tips here. Thanks for sharing them, Robert!

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February 8, 2012 at 4:04 am

I love bullet points. They’re like a cherry on a sundae. The sweetest part of the entire package.

Favorite part: ‘she who makes sense first, wins” I knew women always made the most sense 😉

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February 8, 2012 at 4:41 am

When you are writing an article or a sales page for your website you have to be able to emphasize the points of your article the best way you can so that people understand what you’re trying to say. You bullet points are going to describe your material to the letter. It is going to tell people what you have to offer them and how are you going to help them. Some people are better at this then others, but it is an acquired skill that anyone can learn if you are willing to put in a little work to get good at it. Being able to write good bullet points will assist you in many ways if you plan on marketing online or even just being a good writer period.

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February 8, 2012 at 5:38 am

Bullet points interspersed with paraghraphs works for me. Write a paragraph first, break into another one, then another one and so on. When you feel like you are about to lose the reader, include a few bullet points. That ought to hit the spot, to be sure. The key is to find the right balance. Balanced writing means that it works for you and your readers or target audience. Too few bullet points can be just as bad as including too many bullet points. Hope this makes sense. I appreciate the fact that you contributed this wonderful guest post on this fab blog. Please keep up the good work. Cheerio.

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February 8, 2012 at 11:21 am

• Lots • of • great • info • here!

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February 9, 2012 at 6:45 pm

Thanks for the shot of inspiration and the humiliating realization that I violate just about every tenet in your post on a regular basis. Cheers.

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February 10, 2012 at 1:15 pm

Excellent post. A day before I was just arguing with my friend about bullet points ( imagine that 🙂 ) and this article made my day )

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February 11, 2012 at 7:59 pm

Awesome and so right 🙂

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February 20, 2012 at 6:59 pm

By all means make sure it is content and information which no one will have ever read before and make sure that they will want to have a good read….

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March 16, 2012 at 1:07 pm

That makes me think of how many words you actually use when writing bullet points and also what’s the tone of your blog posts. Are your bullet points and posts filled with the word: “I” and it’s all about you? It’s not about you. It’s all about them. To have really effective engagement in your bullet points you have to earn their attention. To do this, you need to talk about them. To have your bullet points truly engage you need to change your “I-You ratio.” You start with the word “You,” and then use it a dozen more times then you use the word “I.” And that will help your engagement and getting the readers interest. That will help you to become more relevant and read.

What are you going to do for them? What have you got to offer them? This isn’t about manipulation. It’s about being genuine. You need to actually serve the people with whom you are in conversation. If you want them to focus their attention on your words in your bullet points and blog posts, you must genuinely show your intention to meet their needs like Bruce suggests.

This article's comments are closed.

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Using Bullet Points in Business Writing

Business writing must be concise, clearly organized, and easy to scan for important information. Bullet points—informative lists usually marked by geometric shapes (sometimes numbers)—can help you organize and emphasize information quickly and effectively, especially in emails, memos, meeting agendas, presentation talking points, and business letters. The purposes of bullet points include the following:

  • Drawing attention to important information,
  • Scanning a document for important information,
  • Communicating efficiently with your audience.

Effective bullet points rely on effective headings in documents: Use headings to signal to your audience what information your bullet points cover, which will make your document easier to scan for readers and help you organize your information effectively.

Bullet points, when overused, can detract from the goal of your document. If all of your information is bulleted, your audience may not understand which information is most important. This handout outlines the ways in which bullet points should be used as well as ineffective uses of bullet points in business writing.

How to use bullet points

  • Make sure all items in the list are related to each other
  • Use the same font and margin width in each bulleted point
  • Keep bullet points short, preferably no more than three lines long
  • Begin all items with the same part of speech (active verbs work well) and make sure they are in parallel form
  • Make all bullet points approximately the same length
  • Make sure the format is consistent within each list
  • Emphasize the beginning of each bullet point to make the list skim-friendly
  • Use periods at the end of each line only if they are complete sentences

Follow up a bulleted list with a sentence or two to give readers some closure.

Bullet points vs. numbers or letters

  • Use neutral bullet points if all items in a list are equal
  • Indicate sequence or importance with numbers or letters
  • Use numbers if the list is more than 5 items long or if you want to refer your audience to specific points quickly

Do not be afraid of bullet points, but remember: bullet points are used to convey information quickly; using bullet points next to paragraphs of information will not help your audience find information easily.

Howe Writing Initiative ‧ Farmer School of Business ‧ Miami University

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A Guide to Writing Effective Bullet Point Summary

Table of Contents

Bullet point summary is an excellent way of simplifying the information in a document or text . A bullet-point summary highlights the essential takeaways from an article or text.

What is Bullet Point Summary?

A bullet-point summary allows you to present the vital points in a text concisely and adequately. It is effective because it compiles all the essential information needed in a brief amount of space.

Bullet point is a short summation of the key points of a broader piece of information. It does not include the background information on the topic. It only highlights the essential information of the text. To write a powerful summary, consider only the key points and put them as bullet points.

A bulleted text is not an entire sentence but only the critical points in the sentence. Bullet points provide the vital issues in the text without giving the reader any unnecessary information.

It’s also a concise and to-the-point description. The bullet point provides readers with information that they may want to remember. As such, it is vital to use bullet points to prevent readers from losing the context of the sentence.

Writing Powerful Bullet-Point Summary: Tips

Writing powerful and concise bullet points is not always easy. However, it is a lot easier than writing an essay.

Unlike a formal, drawn-out definition, bullet points are meant to be brief and entice readers to continue reading. Bullet points are often used at the top of marketing websites, emails, and educational material.

In addition to creating a compelling summary, bullet points are great for concisely conveying your thoughts. The following tips will help you write effective bullet point summaries.

1) Make it clear

Make sure your bullet points uphold your message and clarify your sentence structure. If you build a strong bullet point, your message will stand out and be more powerful than readers can imagine.

2) Keep it simple and short

Make sure that your words are short, concise, and powerful . This will enable the reader rewhat they read. Bullet points are not alternate to sentences. State the key points and not the whole sentences.

3) Use proper punctuation

Begin with capital letters and end with a period if the bullet point text is a complete statement. If the text is a sentence fragment, do not begin with capital letters.

However, if it continues in another bullet point, then a period is unnecessary. A semicolon is preferred in this case.

4) Proofread

Once you have a rough draft, read your bullet point summary a few times. If your tone of voice sounds painful, you need to re-write. Your bullet-point summary should be easy to understand for the reader.

fountain bold pen on black lined paper crafting writing

A bullet-point summary is an excellent way to convey your thoughts concisely and powerfully .

Writing effective bullet point summaries is the key to dictating information that is not just informative but also exciting. You can do this by staying concise, connecting information clearly, and writing straightforwardly.

A Guide to Writing Effective Bullet Point Summary

Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

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    And — as a little bonus about how to write bullet points — Ben Settle expanded on Brian's post with a few more examples of his own. Here's a few of Ben's favorite bullet point secrets. 6. Give-away bullets. These are sort of like the lady who hands out cheese cubes at the grocery store.

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    Bullet points have a bad name in PowerPoint presentations. When your audience reads bullet points while you speak, the bullet points distract from your talk. So, for PowerPoints slides, pictures are more engaging than bullet points with text. But in sales content, bullet points can be persuasive. As research by the Nielsen Norman group suggests:

  21. How to Write Strong & Effective Resume Bullet Points

    If describing your most recent experience, use up to 8 bullet points. When writing about your very old job, limit the scope to 1-2 bullets or omit it. Since bullet points are to condense the information you want to convey in your resume, don't make them wordy. Each bullet should be 1-2 lines maximum. 4.