Re: Period at end of items in bulleted list

Subject: Re: Period at end of items in bulleted list
From: Mark Baker <mbaker -at- OMNIMARK -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 12 May 1998 18:20:10 -0400

Hillary M. Russak wrote:


>What say ye, Technwhirlers? Should there be a period at the end of each
>item in a bulleted list EVEN if that item is not a sentence? My thought is
>that only sentences have periods. If I just have a bulleted list of items,
>I don't use periods. My co-worker disagrees. I think she sees it as a
>matter of consistency (but I *am* consistent... I only put periods at the
>end of sentences).
>-hil


Since we are all interested in XML markup these days, its worth observing
that punctuation is simply markup. For instance, the previous sentence could
be marked up like this:

<sentence>since we are all interested in XML markup these days <breath/> its
worth observing that punctuation is simply markup</sentence>

Note that I have replace the original sentence start tag (capital letter)
and sentence end tag (period) with XML sentence start and end tags and the
comma with an empty element called "breath". An alternate markup would be as
follows:

<sentence><clause type="conditional">since we are all interested in XML
markup these days </clause><clause type="main"> its worth observing that
punctuation is simply markup</sentence>

And we can (and probably will) argue a good deal about which markup is
correct.

How much markup should we use? As much as is required for the parser to do
its job. How much that is depends on the parser. A list in XML might look
like this:

<list>
<item>Strawberry</item>
<item>Chocolate</item>
<item>Vanilla</item>
</list>

In SGML, which has a smarter parser, we can reduce the markup by removing
the end tags. The SGML parser can figure out that if a new item is
beginning, then the old item must have ended:

<list>
<item>Strawberry
<item>Chocolate
<item>Vanilla
</list>

In conventional text layout the start of indentation is the list start tag,
a bullet is the item start tag, and the end of indenting is the list end
tag. The parser, in this case, is the human brain. Do you think that the
brains of your readers are likely to be up to the task of handling the
omission of end tags for your list items? Can you think of other places in
which we commonly practice end tag omission? (Hint: newspaper headlines) If
so, you will know what to do.

---
Mark Baker
Manager, Corporate Communications
OmniMark Technologies Corporation
1400 Blair Place
Gloucester, Ontario
Canada, K1J 9B8
Phone: 613-745-4242
Fax: 613-745-5560
Email mbaker -at- omnimark -dot- com
Web: http://www.omnimark.com




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