Posted by: episystechpubs | July 24, 2014

Nifty Nuggets: Parallelism

Parallelism refers to using similar grammatical constructions to balance your bullet points and the phrases in your sentences. Using parallel structure in your writing helps increase clarity and readability.

Parallelism in Bulleted Lists:

When creating a bulleted or numbered list, you should structure all of the bullet points the same way. If one bullet point in the list starts with a verb (an action word) or an article (a, an, the), you should start them all similarly. Bulleted lists should be composed of all complete sentences (with punctuation), or they should all be sentence fragments (without punctuation).

Non-parallel list Parallel -list
· Detailed table of contents

· All sections are numbered for easy reference

· Completely indexed

· Includes samples of reports and displays

· Prompts are shown as they display on the screen

· Detailed table of contents

· Numbered sections for easy reference

· Compete index

· Sample reports and displays

We have an additional new rule from JHA Style Guide for Technical Communication and Training, which states that each bullet that completes the introductory sentence should end with a period (this is not true for slide shows). For example:

Before you submit a document for editing, you should:

· Read it carefully and look for mistakes.

· Ask someone to peer review your document.

· Run spell check.

Parallelism in a Sentence:

When writing a sentence that includes a series or related phrases, you should make sure to structure the phrases similarly.

· Non-parallelism

To use NTMC home banking, a member must connect to the Internet, go to your credit union’s home page, and should select a link to NTMC home banking from your website.

Notice that in the example above, the writer switches from third person (a member) to second person (you). The writer has also written the three tasks so that they are not parallel (a member must connect to…, go to your…, and should select…)

· Parallelism

To use NTMC home banking, a member must connect to the Internet, go to the credit union’s home page, and select a link to NTMC home banking from your website.

Thank you,

Jackie Solano

Technical Writer, Episys Technical Publications


8985 Balboa Avenue

San Diego, California 92123

Direct Line: 619-542-6711

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