Dot points – to comma or not to comma. Full stop.

We are often asked – what is the standard way to punctuate dot points or bullet point lists?

To be honest there is no right or wrong way, however consistency is important – setting a guideline and sticking to it. And to help you be consistent, it’s a good idea to keep the guidelines simple.

This is what we usually recommend:

Bullet points and lists carry minimal punctuation and should generally be punctuated in the same way as a normal sentence. So, if a point reads like a full sentence, a capital should be used at the start of the point and a full stop at the end of the point.

If an item in a bulleted list is a sentence fragment, it requires no capital letter and a full stop only after the last point in the series. Commas could be used, however we don’t recommend them, because it usually leads to confusion and inconsistencies.

Do not:

  • use semicolons or commas at the end of each point
  • include ‘and’ on the second last dot point.

Here are some examples of fragments and full sentences.

FRAGMENTS
Benefits include:

  • tax deductibility
  • invitations to events
  • access to our stock room.

SENTENCES
Your Business Association embraces strong values:

  • The traditional owners of the land on which it operates are acknowledged.
  • Members are celebrated, so their work is appreciated locally, nationally and internationally.
  • Democratic operations are based on collaboration and participation of all the members.

We always recommend creating a ‘writing style guide’ for clients, particularly for those who have a variety of writers. Your brand can suffer if the mechanics of your written content varies from piece to piece – perhaps in spelling conventions, use of acronyms or how you refer to your own organisation. It makes life easy and saves time in corrections, if you have set guidelines for your ‘house style’.

Ask us about creating your house style for written content.

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