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How to create a bulleted list in your book

One of Sticky-notes-2247431the best ways to convey connected bits of information is through a bulleted list.

Such a list sets each item on a single line after a bullet point. For example...

The five most visited U.S. national parks are:
• Great Smoky Mountains National Park – 11.3 million annual visitors
• Grand Canyon National Park – 5.9 million
• Yosemite National Park – 5 million
• Rocky Mountain National Park – 4.5 million
• Zion National Park – 4.29 million

A bulleted list makes information easier for readers to digest and to refer back to later.

Only create a bulleted list when you’ve got at least two items to include. Even that is iffy, though, for readers probably could just as easily understand your text in a couple of sentences as they could by reading a list. Three to six points – which are more difficult to pick out of a paragraph – are ideal for a bulleted list.

Once your bulleted list gets to seven or more points, however, then it’s time to rethink it. You probably can consolidate points. Or perhaps you may need to split the list into two’s or three’s.

Begin the bulleted list by writing a lead-in line. This is a phrase, clause or sentence that introduces a vertical, bulleted list. It typically appears after the headline and immediately before the first bullet point. In the above example, The five most visited U.S. national parks are: is the lead-in line.

Next comes the bullet point. To create one, in MS Word hit NUM LOCK then after that hit at the same time ALT and the 7 in the keypad.

The bullet point is the beginning of the bulleted line; in the above example, • Yosemite National Park – 5 million is a bulleted line. There are several widely-accepted rules for creating a bulleted line:
• The list of bullet points either can be aligned left or indented.
• Place a blank space between your bullet and the first letter of the text that follows.
• Don’t start bullet point text with articles (a, an, the).
• Only capitalize the first word of the bulleted text, unless the word is a proper noun.
• Use the hanging-indent style; that is, if the text from the first line of bulleted text spills onto a second line, indent the second line and all subsequent text of the bulleted item so it begins beneath where the first line of text started. (Note: This blog does not follow that style to avoid transcoding problems when it is read on different devices.)
• Only use a period at the end of bulleted line if the text forms a complete sentence. Each bulleted line either should be written either as a complete or an incomplete sentence but not a mix of them.
• All text following a bullet point should line up vertically.
• Avoid starting different bullet items with the same word.
• When text after the bullet point is only a line or two long, use compact list format, meaning no space or empty lines between each bulleted item. When most text after the bullet points are three or more lines long, use loose list format, meaning a space or empty line appears between each bulleted item. This list is in compact list format to avoid transcoding issues.
• If the list consists of keywords/phrases followed by definitions/explanations, place the keywords/phrases in boldface and seperate it with a space/en dash/space then in regular font the definitions/explanations
• Sublists follow the the same rules with two exceptions:
○ Use a clear disc (known as an “empty circle”) for the bullet point; to make one, in the keypad hit NUM LOCK then at the same time hit ALT and the 9.
○ Start the new bullet point even with the first left of the text.

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