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 (3)
8th June 2022 at 17:11
I'm really stuck with how to format a bulleted list of quotes and would be grateful for your input. Should the full stop (UK English style) go inside the quotes or outside the quotes (quotation marks used because they are individual quotes)? The bullet format throughout the document is to use a full stop at the end of each bullet point. Bullet in the example below is represented by an *. * "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras sit amet turpis at nisi efficitur ornare. Vivamus et gravida nunc. Ut ut ullamcorper sapien, quis tincidunt mauris. Donec pretium nunc at nisl rutrum, at tincidunt felis venenatis." Or "... venenatis". Your writing tips are excellent. Thank you.
    9th June 2022 at 09:20
    Hi, Debby. Assuming you're not using a specific style guide, the general convention in UK English is to place full stops outside of closing quotation marks unless they are part of the text being quoted. So, for example, if you were quoting a full sentence that ends with a full stop, you would include the full stop inside the closing quotation mark. But if you were quoting a shorter mid-sentence fragment, you would still include a full stop at the end of the bullet point (for consistency), but it would go outside the closing quotation mark. If you are using a specific style guide, though, you may want to check to see if it offers specific advice on punctuation and/or lists of bullet points.
      13th June 2022 at 11:28
      Thank you. As the quotes consistent of two or three sentences, I have decided that the full stop should be inside the quote marks. Thank you for confirming my interpretation.

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