If the bulleted list is introduced by a complete sentence, each item in the list should finish with a full stop, not a colon, and each point should begin with a capital letter. These are known as "capital bullets".
Other types of bullets are used to highlight key points within the text or to make different parts of a document stand out. In general, though, they should be used only to break up long sentences or items in a list. They should not replace the simple sentence or the list itself.
This rule applies to both ordered and unordered lists.
Bullets can be used in various ways throughout your essay. You might use them to explain your views on an issue or to highlight important information in the text. However, don't rely on bullets to get around putting sentences together in a coherent way. If you do so, then your reader will lose track of what's important and what isn't. They will also feel confused because they won't know how much information to take in from one paragraph to the next.
As well as being distracting, using bullets too frequently will also affect your score. We'll talk more about this when we look at some example essays later on. For now, just remember that bullets are useful tools for breaking up long sentences or items in a list.
If a list is preceded by a whole sentence, each bullet point must start with a capital letter. Never begin an item in such a list with a capital letter; instead, begin with a lowercase letter and conclude with a full stop, completing the phrase. For example: I. Dog. II. Cat.
To begin a bulleted or numbered list, use a colon. The colon appears just before the bulleted list in this example. For single words or brief sentences in bullet points or numbered lists, capitalization and terminating punctuation are optional. However, for longer descriptions or quotations, ending the list with a period is recommended.
There are two types of lists: descriptive and enumerated. In a descriptive list, each item provides a short description that identifies the topic being listed. There is no order to these descriptions; they are merely markers for the reader to look back to if necessary. Enumerated lists have a specific order in which things are discussed or presented. Each item used to create an enumerated list has a number associated with it; this number can be used to refer to that item later. Descriptive lists are often used to provide information for readers who may not know what to expect from the article or section being written. Enumerated lists are usually used to present steps in a process, components of something larger, or other categories of items.
After the colon, you can add text that describes the list's contents using terms such as these: examples, cases, questions, problems, tips, tricks, guidelines, best practices, facts, figures, definitions, or methods. Use proper grammar when describing a list of items.
How to Make Use of Bullet Points:
The capitalization and punctuation for each bulleted item are determined by the sentence structure. If the bulleted text is a whole sentence, uppercase the initial letter of the first word and use a period to conclude the paragraph (see "Lists, Part 5: Bulleted Lists" in the APA Style Blog). This is an example of a sentence. It contains a single bulleted item that is not a complete sentence.
When writing a list of items within a sentence, use lowercase letters for the individual bullets. A semicolon is required between each item on the list. Separate the lists with commas or periods depending on what kind of list they are (see "Lists, Part 5: Bullet Lists" in the APA Style Blog). This is an example of a sentence with multiple bulleted items.
Here is another sentence with multiple bulleted items: Science shows that people who eat lots of fruits and vegetables have less likely to be sick. You should include dates for when you published your article so other scholars can find it quickly. Use the publication date as the year before the citation. These articles may help: "How to Cite Academic Papers" and "Citing Multiple Sources".
Finally, here is a sentence with a single bulleted item: Organic food is better for the environment because it uses less water and produces fewer greenhouse gases than conventional agriculture.
The capitalization and punctuation for each bulleted item depends on whether the items form sentences or sentence parts. If the bulleted text is a full sentence, capitalize the first letter of the first word and end the paragraph with a period. Otherwise, leave a blank space and start a new paragraph.
Bullet points are used as punctuation. Use capital letters and punctuation if the content of your bullet point is a complete sentence (or many phrases). You do not need to conclude with punctuation if your points are not formed as proper sentences. This includes introducing a quote within your text or listing several reasons why something is true.
Most experts advocate beginning each bulleted item with a capital letter. We're so conditioned to capitalize only proper nouns and the first word in a complete sentence that capitalizing single words and phrases almost looks improper. But the fact is, they are capitalized quite frequently in newspapers and other publications. So the rule is not actually hard to follow.
There are two reasons why you should begin every bulleted list with a capital letter: first, to help readers identify important points within the list; second, because it's a good visual cue about where one phrase ends and another begins.
Without going into great detail about grammar and usage here, I will say that sentences containing bulleted items are called "ordered lists". These can be used in many places outside of articles, for example on Web pages. Another common location for ordered lists are convention programs because they're easy to read and can include a lot of information.
Here are some examples of ordered lists: "This is the first item. This is the second item. And this is the third item." "Questions for discussion: What is your opinion about using ordered lists on websites? How would you use them? What could be done better?"
Now, these examples contain three and four items respectively, but an ordered list can also be limited to two or more items.