There are two things to remember about bullets:

  • They must be used sparingly
  • They have to be consistent

Bullets are a useful way of breaking up text and guiding your reader’s attention to a few things that they just have to know. However, they don’t promote flow or coherence, and readers know that when a writer claims everything is important enough to merit a bullet point, nothing is. So, never have more than five on a page, and try not to use more than three in a single list.

Bullets need to make sense, so the text in each bullet point must complete the sentence which introduces them all (and which ends with a colon). Here’s an example of how not to do it.

Insurers, on behalf of their pension fund clients and others, are particularly interested in how companies report on SEE and welcome information in the report and accounts (with further details elsewhere when appropriate):

  • defining board responsibilities
  • identifying risks, their business impact, policies and procedures in place to deal with them
  • disclosing performance targets
  • internal or external verification or audit

To make this work, we need to reduce to a manageable length the text that introduces the bullets, make the bullets complete the introduction, and make each item a similar size.

Insurers, often on behalf of their pension-fund clients, are particularly interested in how companies report on SEE. They welcome information in the report and accounts – and further details elsewhere, when appropriate. Their focus is on:

  • How board responsibilities are defined
  • How risks are identified and what their business impact is
  • What policies and procedures are in place to deal with risks
  • How performance targets are disclosed
  • Whether the audit or verification is internal or external

Begin each bullet point with a capital, and end with no punctuation at all. Separating bullet points with semicolons looks rather fussy and old-fashioned. Remember though that some of our clients have other ideas, so check whether there is an entry under ‘bullets’ for your client.

Remember that there are alternatives to bullet points. If you have more than five bullet points, then turn them into a numbered list. Or if your bullet points are very long, turn them into short paragraphs with subheadings.



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