Re: Bulleted Lists

Subject: Re: Bulleted Lists
From: James Lockard <jamesl -at- DMTI -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 18 Aug 1997 09:54:51 -0500


Due to a software failure, I haven't been able to find the original post,
but on Saturday, 16 August, Ira Jacobson wrote,

"_I_ would use a colon. I also at times follow each bulleted item with a
semi-colon, and the last with a period. Thus, the list is in essence a
complete grammatical sentence. Any reason not to?"

Actually, yes. Naturally, consistency is more important here than the
method itself; however it is a point worth making.

Though YMMV, I've been taught that bulleted list items do not take commas
or semicolons because the list itself serves as "punctuation." Since the
purpose of those punctuation marks is to divide up the sentence, and the
list structure itself already accomplishes that goal, the addition of
commas or semicolons is redundant.

Also, I don't always introduce a list with a colon. Just as when you
introduce a non-bulleted list, you introduce a bulleted list with a colon
when the introductory phrase is independent. That is to say that the
introductory phrase should be able to stand as a complete sentence. Take
a look at these examples from _The_Elements_of_Grammar_for_Writers_:

Our ideal candidate has five qualities: honesty, warm-heartedness,
intelligence, diplomacy, and taste. (P. 84)

Our ideal candidate has qualities such as honesty, warm-heartedness,
intelligence, diplomacy, and taste. (P. 84)

Notice how these two similar sentences use different techniques to
introduce the list. I use the same rule for bulleted and numbered lists.

James Lockard

Office Address jamesl -at- dmti -dot- com
Home Address norton -at- mcs -dot- net
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