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.

Do you know businesses that could benefit from my writing or editing expertise? I’ll treat your referrals like gold. 619-291-4645

Published On: May 25th, 2017 / Categories: 2012 /

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