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May 2012 Volume 8 Issue 5

The Write Stuff

May 2012  Volume 8 Issue 5

Just Shoot Me (With Bullet Points)

Bullet points are one of the handiest tools in your writing arsenal, especially if your copy will be viewed online. They’re a fabulous alternative to providing a list of items within a paragraph, because they:

  • Make copy easier to read (or scan)
  • Provide a greater “showcase” for each bullet point
  • Offer a refreshing design element

Take note that I introduced the list above with a colon, the first word of each bullet point is capitalized, and none of them end with a period or comma. These bullet points also pass the consistency test (they make, they provide, they offer), something I often find lacking in my clients’ copy.


Here’s an example of what not to do:


The only way the Cubs are going to become a championship team is by:

  • Having a more consistent offense
  • Improving their bullpen
  • Play better fundamental baseball

The third bullet fails the consistency test (by having, by improving, by play); it should begin with “playing.”


Another issue I see with bullet points is beginning each one with the same word or words, a situation that can be rather easily rectified.


Here’s the “no” example:


It’s going to be a long season if:

  • The Cubs don’t take greater advantage of having runners in scoring position
  • The Cubs don’t learn to bunt better
  • The Cubs don’t find a way to hold onto late leads

What’s the better alternative?


It’s going to be a long season if the Cubs don’t:

  • Take greater advantage of having runners in scoring position
  • Learn to bunt better
  • Find a way to hold onto late leads

Instead of repeating “the Cubs don’t” in each bullet point, those words introduce the list, resulting in shorter, more compelling copy.


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©2018 Adrienne Moch Writing & Editing