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Should I Use Bullets or Numbers

Have bullets and numbers ever confused you? Have you wondered whether to capitalize or punctuate your list? Well, you’re not the first one. Here are the rules:


Should I use a numbered list or a bulleted one?

Use a numbered list when you want to indicate a sequence, or when you’re listing things in order of importance.

Use bullets when the items are not sequential or are of equal importance. 

Should I capitalize the first letters of the items in the list?

Yes, you should capitalize the first letter of each item.

Should I use periods at the end of the items?

Use periods when the items are listed as clauses or phrases. For example:

  • Two white boxes with colored designs.
  • One small red box, as per the instructions.
  • Three large cartons.

 Use periods when the items complete the introductory statement. For example:

Students are admitted to the course if they have a

  • High school degree.
  • International Baccalaureate.
  • British Advanced levels.

Do not use periods when the items are short phrases or single words and the introductory statement is complete. For example:

The website had excellent features:

  • Beautiful design
  • Easy navigation
  • Very informative

Word of advice:

Never end a document, article, or e-mail with a list. Always add a sentence or two at the end to give a sense of completeness.


Have I missed out on anything? Are there any other rules?


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