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Why I Love Bullets (and You Should Too)

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012 by Ruth

With bullets, what’s not to love? They are bold, matter-of-fact, and reliable—kind of like my best friend. (My personal fave? The little square ones.)

Most common in business writing is the traditional—but, dare I say, passé—black dot, followed closely by the slightly more updated version of the little black square. But bullets do allow for more expression—just pick a design that suits your mood. You can choose checkmarks, diamonds, and arrowheads. You can even change up colors, if you feel like it.

Bullets tend to work in groups—and when you think about it, they are kind of conformists. They all look exactly the same, place themselves in an ordered column, and generally attach themselves to the same amount or type of text.

Bullets are known to be tough and stand tall—breaking up dense text to save the reader from trudging through another bulked-up paragraph. Bullets just file in and save the day, providing a peaceful refuge for the reader’s eyes as they peruse otherwise thick copy.

Bullets also:

  • Remind me of a classic wardrobe piece: Once you know how to use them, you can apply them in many different ways for surprising results.
  • Serve as billboards that scream, “Find important stuff here!”
  • Are great for highlighting salient points, top benefits, or summary statements.
  • Frame key takeaways masterfully.
  • Can be used simply to break up a complicated comma series. (The end result? A staccato-like list of related items.)

One important thing to keep in mind when using bullets is that they should begin in a grammatically consistent way. All verbs? All noun statements? Either is fine, just keep them coming. The end goal is that you want your reader to be able to breeze through the bulleted list quickly and with little effort. For example, use bullets to describe a software application that allows you to innovate, streamline, or reduce—all action verbs that give the text some rhythm and make it easy to digest.

So let’s review. I love bullets because they are:

  • Visually appealing
  • Able to break up dense text
  • Precursors for important copy
  • Easy to skim

Now go forth and unleash your inner bullet.

 

is a member of the Content Bureau editorial team.

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Beyond the Style Guide

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