Bulleted Lists

Bulleted lists organize information and help your readers scan quickly. In such lists, it's important to start each bullet with the same part of speech.

Notice the following two lists are both properly constructed, although they're different from one another. Both lists explain the updates currently being installed on a company's website.

Option One

Once the update is completed, visitors to our website will be able to:

• search for past articles from the newsletters

• contact any employee by E-mail

• consult frequently asked questions

Option Two

Once the update is completed, visitors to our website will be able to access information in new ways:

• Customers will be able to search through the archive of past newsletter issues to find articles of specific or immediate interest.

• Prospects will be able to directly contact any employee by name, department, or activity.

• Users of our products will be able to consult frequently asked questions twenty-four hours a day.

• Interested surfers can link directly to other sites.

Note that in option one, each bullet point started with a verb, whereas option two used complete sentences. They're both effective. Pick one, or create your own style, then be consistent.

Duane, executive director of a museum, needed to write a list of goals to present to the board of directors. He wrote:

• to attract more volunteers

• ask for an increase in member dues

• considering adding exhibitions

• to increase the number of grants we receive

• interview new artists and publishing the interviews in the newsletter

Duane said, "As soon as I read through the list, I knew I had a problem. Not just with parallel construction. Some of my writing was unclear because, frankly, I wasn't sure what I wanted to say. I decided to go one by one, getting each bullet point into parallel construction and making sure the points were clear. There were a lot of verbs close to the beginning, so I decided to stay with that construction. I ended up with this.

My goals include:

• to attract more volunteers

• to analyze whether an increase in member dues is appropriate

• to consider adding exhibitions

• to receive more grants

• to conduct and publish interviews with new artists

"I was very pleased with the outcome. Once I got into the rhythm of it, the list wrote itself."

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