Periods in bulleted lists

Subject: Periods in bulleted lists
From: "Geoff Hart (by way of \"Eric J. Ray\" <ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com>)" <ght -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
Date: Thu, 30 Jul 1998 12:52:27 -0600

Sarah Wigser wondered whether there was any standard for punctuating
bulleted lists. Are you kidding? This is technical writing, after
all... there are as many standards as there are techwhirlers. <g>
Seriously, though, the answer is that most style guides provide a
suggestion, so pick your favorite style guide and see what it says.
Personally, I prefer to handle lists in one of two ways:

1. Treat each item as a complete sentence or series of sentences, and
punctuate accordingly.

2. Treat each item as a completion of the phrase that introduces the
list, and end the item with a comma or (if there are multiple
clauses) with a semicolon. The second-last item in the list gets a
terminal "and" or "or", as the case may be, and the last item gets a

I don't permit naked fragments: either use complete sentences, or use
fragments that form complete sentences in combination with the
introductory phrase. And don't mix fragments with complete sentences;
parallelism _is_ important.
--Geoff Hart @8^{)}
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca

"You keep using that word... I do not think it means what you think it
means."--Inigo Montoya

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