Posted by: Jack Henry | December 12, 2016

Editor’s Corner: Punctuation in Bulleted Lists

Good morning!

You can thank Maria D. for today’s topic. Maria has a specific question about bullet points and punctuation. She wants to know whether bullet points should end in a period.

I wish I could give Maria and you a simple yes or no, but as is usually the case, there’s not a black-and-white answer to this question. I will say, however, that consistency is very important.

The rules for creating bulleted lists are laid out in the JHA Style Guide. I’ve copied the pertinent rules here for you.


Use a bulleted list for an unordered series of items. Use a numbered list for procedures or sequential items.

Avoid using single-item lists. That is, a numbered list should not have a 1 without a 2, a bulleted list should not have a single bullet, and a procedure should not have a Step 1 without a Step 2. Exceptions are allowed when necessary; for example, to retain visual continuity across multiple lists.

End each entry in a list with a period if:

· Each entry is a complete sentence.

· The entries are a mixture of fragments and sentences.

· Each entry completes the introductory sentence or fragment.

I hope that makes things a little clearer. Thanks for the suggestion, Maria!

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123 | Ph. 619.278.0432 | Extension: 765432

Symitar Technical Publications Writing and Editing Requests

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