Have some fun and break the rules!

Bullet points and the “rules” for using punctuation with them have long given me fits! I was taught not to use punctuation with bullet points; however, on the flip side, when bullet points contain complete sentences and complex statements that go on sometimes for paragraphs, the rule is to use closing punctuation. So, what happens when you have someone who insists on using bullet points and has short, concise points to make and then, in the same series of bullet points, longer, more elaborate points that require closure?

Recently I was tackling a project that had just this scenario of bullet points that contained short points and then others which included longer points. I put closing punctuation on all to make it uniform and appealing. Then there was a few paragraphs of discussion about the topic at hand followed by another series of bullet points with shorter sentences, all which could have been written with no closing punctuation and they would have been correct. But on the same page above, I’d had the longer bullet points all with closing punctuation.

I made the decision, rule or no rule, to make the entire document flow with closing punctuation on all of the bullet points. It was my opinion that it would have looked odd to have one whole series of bullet points with closing punctuation and then on the same page another set of bullet points, albeit short ones, with no closing punctuation.

I discussed this with the client, who had no clue about this rule in the first place, and they were in agreement that the document looked appealing and was better with closing punctuation overall instead of only applying punctuation to one series of points and leave the remaining series with no punctuation.

In a perfect world, everyone would use bullet points only as originally intended – to convey short snippets of information. But this does not always happen and many people love to use bullet points to highlight information that takes paragraphs to properly convey to readers. I think there are times when we can break the rules and live dangerously for the sake of overall uniformity and visual appeal in a document. Why should poets have all the fun when it comes to creative punctuation styles? When in doubt, research and check out the “rules” for proper punctuation and then make a decision, when needed, to bend the rules for overall uniformity in your written documents.

About Kate

Kate Smalley is a secretary / transcriptionist for Connecticut Secretary, Inc., located in Branford, Connecticut. She started Connecticut Secretary in 1999 and has provided administrative support services and business transcripts for a wide variety of individuals in different industries.
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The best part of the job for her is always having something new to do each and every day, and making a business owner or executive's day just that much easier is always her primary goal. Connecticut Secretary also supports graduate students with their most important projects. Contact Kate today to discuss your project. She's always interested in hearing from you.