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When To Use Bullet Points In Your Writing

Bullet points are a crucial tool for writers. These points provide clarity and focus for readers, quickly highlighting important topics.

Learn the basics on when to use bullet points

As writers, we all agree that when you write copy for online viewership, it is different.  You have to persuade and honestly explain the goals of what you are writing in a better way.  Nothing helps this more than an understanding of when to use bullet points.

Our society has become a nation of skimmers and not deep readers.  This means, as writers, we must grab your attention and grab it quickly.  

As a content creator, what is the best way to handle this?  I could argue a point for making my content shorter, but I know that longer pieces often get better engagement.  Great content requires excellent substance, so that should be the goal.  Writing articles is about grabbing the reader’s attention, which needs me to focus on current trends.  In the world of copy, one of the most essential tools is the small but powerful bullet point.  

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When to use Bullet Points? 

When I think of the bullet point, I think of getting right to the topic.  I then have to explain the subject (or subject) precisely and honestly.  The author has to deliver instant gratification, or the intention of using the bullet point(s) has not been fruitful.

Using bullet points is a simple but powerful way to present a list of facts, statistics, or even traits of a subject.  You can even use bullet points to give instructions that sometimes do not need to be on a numbered list but instead, just get noted quickly.

Often bullet points are overutilized, so keep in mind your article structure to create the best formatting.  The goal is to enhance the article, not overwhelm the reader with lists.

Let’s discuss how to use bullet points:

  • Remember to include a colon at the end of the text when introducing a bullet point section.
  • Use the same font and margin width at each point.
  • Ensure all the items in the list are related.
  • Proper structure is still important.  If you’re creating sentences, capitalize the sentence and end with the appropriate punctuation.
  • Bullet points can be words, phrases, or sentences.
  • Important – always try to keep your bullet points as short as possible.

While there are best practices for using bullet points, remember that there is still flexibility based on your topic and article structure.  As an author, remain consistent and stick to an outline that works for you and your skills.  Make your copy easy to read with a visually appealing format.

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Why do authors use bullet points? 

There are many reasons why writers use bullet points.  Almost always, they fall into one of the following categories.


As mentioned, writing today is entirely different than a decade ago.  Trying to keep a reader’s attention sometimes means summarizing an issue.  This is where bullet points come can be extremely useful.

Expression of Major Points or Issues 

They can make a list of issues appear more professional.  If this leads to a better understanding by the reader, then you have done your job with your writing.

Item Lists 

Without a doubt, they can be used as a simple way to display a list of items.  

Give Directions 

They can help organize directions. 

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Knowing when to use bullet points is a great way to emphasize important aspects of your article.  As mentioned, don’t overuse and assess the structure of your paper.  Also, consider your audience, and how they will read and comprehend your writing.  If used correctly, bullet points can and will help your audience understand the key points of your content.

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Bullet Point FAQs 

What are the rules for a bullet points list? 

The items of a bulleted list must be short. Avoid bulleted items that are longer than two lines. If you need longer items, put them in the running text. Bulleted items should not repeat parts of the introductory sentence. 

When should you not use bullet points? 

Inappropriate use of bullet points arises when writers attempt to present an argument in list form. Bullet points alone are insufficient to constitute an argument. While bullet points can be helpful for complex ideas, they can also result in disjointed points. As such, connecting the pieces and ensuring the argument flows logically is crucial.




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