Re: question: bulleted lists and periods

Subject: Re: question: bulleted lists and periods
From: Scott Miller <smiller -at- CORP -dot- PORTAL -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 30 Jul 1998 11:41:21 -0700

Grammar isn't the issue, it's readability. In the example below, what do
I get out of the paragraph that says "Spot?" Nothing. It's a weird,
isolated thing. I would use something like this:

Here's what that darn Spot did:
- Ran north up the block
- Chased a drunken badger
- Rolled over three times
- Hurled on the Smiths' petunias

Since these are all sentence fragments, I wouldn't use the period. I
like the rule mentioned previously: if one bulleted item requires a
period, they all do.

Digressing a bit here, the worst application of the "sentence broken
into a bulleted list" method is when the introductory paragraph is used
as the front half of a number of sub-paragraphs, like:

That darn Spot:
- ran north up the block until he got really tired. Gosh, he looked
spent!
- chased a drunken badger whose name escapes me. I think it was Rudolph,
but that could be the drunken skunk. I dunno.
- rolled over three times and danced a tarantella. You can learn to
dance the tarantella too, at Homer's Dance and Wine-tasting Seminar.
Learn all you need to know about chocolate ants! Fun for the entire
family!
- hurled on the Smiths' petunias.

There's so much material in the bulleted items that you lose the
connection with the lead-in paragraph. By the time I get to the last
item, I've forgotten all about that darn Spot.

- Scott Miller
smiller -at- portal -dot- com

---------------------------------------
> But a simple bulleted list really is just an orthographic variation of
> a
> comma-delimited list. You wouldn't hesitate to use a period here:
> "Spot
> ran north up the block, chased an drunken badger, rolled over three
> times, and barfed on the Smith's petunias."
>
> So why not use one here:
>
> Spot:
> - Ran north up the block
> - Chased a drunken badger
> - Rolled over three times
> - Barfed on the Smiths petunias.
>
> The bullets are a typesetting device to open up the list to make it
> easier to read. They don't change the underlying grammar.
>




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