Open the internet or any social media app, and you’ll come across at least 100 different pieces in one go. Do you read all of it? The answer is a hard no!
In a world filled with text, image, and video-based content, writers and content creators are pressured to grab readers’ attention.
The question is no longer about writing good content but about making it readable and scannable for your audience. The trick is to give them what they are looking for in a simple gist. Is there a way to do it? Definitely, yes!
Bullet points are known to be incredibly helpful when it comes to writing attention-grabbing content. They are perfect for highlighting crucial information in the text, so your reader doesn’t have to read it all to get an answer.
In this post, we’ve highlighted everything about writing effective and powerful bullet points, along with some bullet form examples. Keep reading!
The Basics to Start From
Bullet points are a vertical list used to highlight key information in a text.
It can be used to list down a list of facts, important instructions, and other relevant data to grab the reader’s attention.
Remember that a bullet point is not like a sentence. You can’t write a long line as a bullet point; it affects the text’s readability. It’s used to convey key points only, so make sure you’re writing bullets as concisely as possible.
Numbered Lists vs. Bulleted Lists
You can write either in bullets or create a numbered list. Both are essentially important but look perfect in content if used for the right reasons.
A numbered list is presented in the content with a numerical value. It’s perfect to use when you want to highlight the order of things.
For instance, recipes are often presented in a numbered list because the order matters. Here’s an example from Taste of Home where the directions are written in a numbered form. It’s easy to read and lets the reader know clearly how to create the recipe in a few steps.
Here’s another example of the top-10 songs list by Taylor Swift presented on Billboard. The song with the most number of streams, airplay audience, and sales is placed on top of the list and the one with the least is at the bottom.
A bulleted list is generally used when the order of the points doesn’t matter. Bullets are basically a special character–a bold dot.
Here’s an example where RetailDive has summarized its blog’s main ideas in bullet form to summarize the main points for the reader’s ease.
Moreover, HubSpot in this blog has listed down all the benefits of content marketing in bullet form to draw the reader’s attention and increase the content’s efficiency.
Master the Art of Writing Bullet Points With These 10 Tips
The usage of bullet points in the content can make or break it. Your aim should be to write to-the-point bullet points and confirm the benefits of your ideas.
MikkeGoes.com posted a blog regarding the importance of learning programming. Here’s how they have used a bulleted list to emphasize the benefits of programming in understanding the mentioned complex topics.
Here are a few tips that can help you write remarkable and attention-grabbing bullet points like the examples you’ve seen above.
- Follow The Same Pattern for All Points
To make your bullet points easy on the eyes, it’s essential to follow the same pattern for each of them. For example, if you’ve written one line for the first point, then try to do the same for the others too.
Normally, bullet points should not be more than a line, but in case you need to add details, then try to concise it as much as possible.
Look at the content written by Walker Sands where all bullet points feature a bold part at the start. They followed the same pattern with all points to pass the information to the reader in a jiffy.
- Don’t Be Clever, Just Be Simple
Think of bullet points as a small headline. Would you 2-3 lines long headlines? No!
Similarly, the bullets have to send the right message in the most simple way to avoid confusion. Around 2-5 words are enough for a bullet describing benefits or facts.
Top Tip: Don’t use sub-bullets. It divides the reader’s attention which can affect the time spent by the reader on the page.
Avoid Confusing the Reader with Clutter
The goal of using bullets is to let the reader know what you want in one go.
Bullets should be simple and must not contain all sorts of subheadings, sub-bullets, long sentences, etc. that can confuse the reader.
Always Use Verbs to Start the Sentence
Use the most informative words (verbs) at the start of each bullet. It pulls the reader into learning more about it. Such sentences are focused on actions, which intrigues the reader to keep reading.
For instance, instead of writing:
- By signing up, you will get a 10% cashback
- Get 10% cashback on signing up
It’s simple, starts with a verb, and precisely delivers the deal to the audience. They don’t have to look any further to find more information.
Parallelism simply means using the same part of speech and grammatical form throughout all your bullet points. It creates a theme and is far more attractive and effective than disordered bullets.
Make Keyword Usage a Priority
Last but not least, keywords play a crucial role in ranking your content on search engines. If you’re writing SEO-optimized content, then make sure to use keywords as naturally as you can in your bullets.
Don’t try to squeeze in the keywords in the content if they don’t make any sense. The best way is to tweak them a little to fit them in bullets.
Writing Bullet Points Using Error-less Punctuation – Here’s How!
Punctuating bullet points can be a bit tricky. Almost all style guides follow a different format to punctuate bullets, so how must you do it?
The main issues that people often face with punctuating bullets are:
- Which punctuation should you use at the end of the sentence? A dot, a semicolon, or nothing?
- Do you need to put a colon at the end of the stem sentence or nothing at all?
- Does the first letter of the bullet point need to be capitalized?
Let’s answer it all one by one.
Punctuation at the End of Bullet Points
The AP Style Guide recommends putting a period at the end of the phrase or section. An example of such a style would be:
My candles are a must-have because of:
- Pleasant aroma.
- Beautiful design.
- Long-lasting fragrance.
On the other hand, The Chicago Manual Style and Garner’s Modern American Usage suggest using semicolons at the end of the phrase or section up to the second-last item, then a period at the end of the last phrase. For instance:
My candles are a must-have because of:
- Pleasant aroma;
- Beautiful design; and
- Long-lasting fragrance.
AP Style Guide is usually preferred because it looks less cluttered and visually simple. The other styles can be good for formal writing, but for blogging, it’s best to stick with AP Style Guide.
Top Tip: When using AP Style Guide, don’t put periods at the end of bullets that are short phrases or fragments not connected to the stem sentence.
Punctuation at the End of Stem Sentence
What is a stem sentence?
The introductory stem sentence is written before the bullet points. It is a phrase that’s either connected or not connected with the bullets below.
Again, every style guide has different views about this. For instance, Garner, Gregg, and AP Style Guide use a colon at the end of the stem sentence; however, Chicago Manual does not use it.
As we recommend you use the AP Style, so use a colon at the end of the stem sentence. Follow all rules of a style guide to avoid affecting the content’s homogeneity.
First Letter Capitalized or Not?
Whether you’re following AP Guide or Chicago Manual, always capitalize the first letter of the bullet. It represents good writing, so don’t forget about using it ever.
Bullet Point Examples that Make a Difference in Content
If you’re wondering about how you should exactly use bullet points, then here are some examples taken from multiple blogs to make it easy for you.
Bullet Point Example #1: MedicalNewsToday
This bulleted list briefly describes the side effects of consuming too much sugar. It’s clear, simple, and gives direct information to the reader. They don’t even have to look through the entire article to get this information.
Bullet Point Example #2: Crucial
Here’s another example of a bulleted list where a clear heading tells what the list is about. So, for instance, if a reader is looking for ways to check the memory on Windows® 10, they can quickly get this information in this section and get what they are looking for.
Bullet Point Example #3: HubSpot
This bulleted list has bold phrases at the start that briefly tell what the rest of the bullet point is about. The reader doesn’t even have to read the whole bullet point to understand how to contact a prospect, they can look at the bold words and understand what the rest of it covers.
Bullet Point Example #4: NIH
Here’s a great example of using bullet points. Readers dread looking through the whole post to find relevant information and often they don’t find what they are looking for in a piece. This list sums down all the information that the article covers, so the reader can quickly check if it’ll be a good read for them or not.
Bullet Point Example #5: Sleep Foundation
This bulleted list is an excellent example of using this format to describe stages of a process. Anyone looking for this information can easily understand how many stages are there of sleep and what they precisely are without going through the whole post.
Bonus Section: When Should You Not Use Bullet Points?
While bullet points seem like a great choice, they can’t be used everywhere you want. Here are some examples of when you should avoid using bullet points.
- Never Use it for a Complex Argument
Bullet points are great for drawing attention and giving information as concisely as possible, but some arguments cannot be simplified.
There’s no way you can use bullets for arguments without eating half of the information. So, avoid using a bullet form for a complex argument.
- Don’t Write Definitions in Bullets
You can write facts, benefits, stats, and so much more in a bulleted list, but never a definition.
A definition of anything is like a stem sentence. There can be benefits, facts, etc. attached to it that can go in a bulleted list, but never the definition itself. Avoid this practice for a clean, centered, and uncluttered writing style.
- Avoid Using Bullets for Disconnected Points
A bulleted list must be connected to the stem sentence and should have some reference to the other points in the list. For instance, the hardware requirements cannot go in the software requirements bulleted list. It won’t make any sense.
To maintain the content’s structural integrity, create a separate bullet list for all aspects of a product, service, etc. to avoid confusion.
What’s the Takeaway?
Hopefully, you’ll be fully equipped with the real way to write powerful, effective, and attention-grabbing bullet points.
We’ve presented many examples to give you a clear idea about writing bullet points. Follow these tips and see a significant improvement in your writing style!
Good luck creating your next blog!