Should Bullet-Point Lists End with a Period?
  • 2-minute read
  • 6th April 2022

Should Bullet-Point Lists End with a Period?

Bullet-point (or vertical) lists are a convenient and eye-catching method of summarizing content in your work. But punctuating these lists can be tricky. In this guide, we’ll explain when to use periods with a bullet-point list. Read on for more information!

Full Sentences Versus Sentence Fragments

The key issue here is whether you’re listing full sentences or sentence fragments. If a full sentence is listed with a bullet point, it should end with a period. For example:

  • When you are learning a foreign language, it is essential to know the grammar.

If, on the other hand, you’re listing words or short phrases, you should omit the period. Have a look at this example:

Things to take to university:

  • Laptop
  • English dictionary and thesaurus
  • Mom’s old recipe book

See—no periods!

Finally, when you’re listing a longer sentence fragment, periods are optional. For instance:

Useful language learning techniques include:

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  • Visiting the country where the language is spoken.
  • Practicing the language with a native speaker.
  • Reading books in the language.

Here, the list would be punctuated correctly with or without periods—just make sure it’s consistent.

Full Sentences Combined with Sentence Fragments

A problem arises when you list a mixture of full sentences and fragments. Should you use a period at the end or not? The answer is yes. For the sake of consistency, include a period at the end of each item on a mixed list. For example:

My thoughts on English grammar:

  • It’s complicated and potentially confusing.
  • Useful to know, especially in an increasingly globalized market.
  • Great fun, nonetheless.

While in formal writing you should be consistent with your use of full sentences or fragments in a vertical list, in informal writing, it’s acceptable to combine both. Just remember the period at the end of each list item!

Expert Assistance with Your Writing

We hope this guide has helped you to use periods in your bullet-point lists correctly. If you would like any further assistance with your writing, whether it’s formatting, proofreading, or editing, get in touch with us today!

Comments (2)
Jason Stuhlsatz
25th April 2022 at 20:19
Yes! Ammunition for my arguments to those that use periods in lists way too much.
cal chayce
13th August 2022 at 21:30
Even trickier when your whole document has no periods after bullet points, then you get to one or two points that have two sentences. Can't not use a period at the end of the first, so it'd be too weird to not have one at the end of the second. Therefore, the entire document needs to be redone to be consistent with that, even though they're nearly always short fragments and look better sans periods. At least, I haven't found a better way. In the end, consistency is king.

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