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 phrases or complete sentences, adding period endings is recommended to provide clarity about the relationship between items in the list.
The following example uses both capital letters and full stops (periods) to indicate the start and end of each item in the list:
These are some favorite fruits: Apples, Bananas, Grapes, Oranges.
Here is an example of a short list with capital letters indicating separate items within the list:
Apples: Delicious fruit used for cooking and eating out of hand.
Oranges: Sweet fruit often used as a decoration at holidays and special occasions.
Bananas: Fruit that provides food for over 50% of the world's population; high in calories per weight unit; also used as animal feed.
Grapes: Considered one of the most nutritious foods on the planet; contains vitamin C; magnesium; potassium; fiber; water; antioxidants.
If a complete sentence introduces the bulleted list, each item in the list should end with a full stop, not a colon, and each point should begin with a capital letter. For example, The "Study" section of Imperial's website suggests free activities in London for students on a budget.
Lists inside sentences
Lists in Format
A list in a sentence requires three punctuation marks: a comma, a colon, and a semicolon. Which one you use is determined by the complexity of your list. If you're making a basic list, just put a comma after each item. But if you need to separate multiple sentences-or even paragraphs-use a semicolon instead.
I double-checked my list after making it (for colons, commas, and semicolons).
A collection of lists
Introduce the list with a new phrase or independent clause. To indicate that the list will be long, use a colon, and commas to divide items in a short list. If you need to divide the items in the list, a semicolon separates things that are more than three words long and items that include commas. A period ends the list.
Use transition words to connect each item on the list with the next one. These words give information about the relationship between the two ideas: for example, because, since, while, after which means that, and so forth.
When writing about lists of items, it is important to distinguish what they contain from how they are contained. So, for example, although a list may consist of animals of a certain type, it does not necessarily follow that the list is made up of pictures of cats or dogs. The same list could be used to describe both a display containing photographs of animals and the actual creatures themselves. Lists can also be used to display several similar objects or people. For example, "John, Paul, George, and Ringo were all members of 1960s rock band The Beatles." Here, the list shows that these four individuals were all part of the group, but it does not tell us which ones went where or when they joined up.
Lists can be useful tools for organizing information.