Bullet points

Bullet points can make text easier to read, especially long lists.

The lead sentence must make sense when read with each bullet point separately. It should end with a colon - the ':' symbol. 

Lists with two bullets

A bullet list with two points can make alternative choices easier to understand than if they were presented in a sentence.
 
You can use ‘or’ before the second item. For example:
 
The registration of a heavy vehicle can be cancelled by:

  • the registered owner
  • or an authorised agent acting on behalf of the registered owner.

Lists longer than two bullets

Long sentences that contain lists or many ideas can be broken down so they are easier to understand:

     X  You must not take fish from Doctor’s Gully, East Point aquatic life reserves in Darwin Harbour, Aboriginal sacred sites, aquaculture farm leases and sanctuary zones. These are protected areas. 

     ✔  You must not take fish from the following protected areas:

  • Doctor’s Gully
  • East Point aquatic life reserves in Darwin Harbour
  • Aboriginal sacred sites
  • aquaculture farm leases
  • sanctuary zones.

You should include the words ‘all of the following’ or ‘any of the following’ in the lead sentence if the meaning is not clear.
 
This is so the user is aware if they have to follow all of the bullet points or just one. For example:
 
Your emergency kit should include all of the following:

  • 10 litres of bottled water per person
  • non-perishable foods 
  • a can opener
  • a battery-operated radio with spare batteries... 

Using ‘all of the following’ shows the user they should include all these items in their kit.

Do not use sentences within a bullet point list. Separate new information with a spaced hyphen, not a dash. For example:
 
There are many examples of adaptive reuse of heritage buildings in the NT, including:

  • the former Reserve Bank in Darwin - now a visitor information centre
  • Admiralty House in Darwin - now a restaurant
  • Lyon’s Cottage in Darwin - now a retail outlet...

You can use a smaller bullet list within a larger one if needed. Keep it simple if you can.

A list within a list does not take a full stop unless ending a larger list.

Bullet list rules

When you’re writing a bullet point:

  • don’t use capital letters except for proper names
  • don't use semi-colons or commas to separate items 
  • use hyphens, not en or em dashes, to expand on an item
  • don’t use etc
  • avoid linking to other pages or websites
  • only use a full stop on the last item.

If bullet points are too long, try to rewrite them into sentences. 

Bullet list tense

Bullet points must be in the same tense as the introductory sentence. For example:

Before taking to the water you should do all of the following:

  • learn all of the boat laws in the NT 
  • learn the boat rules to operate your boat safely
  • read how to use the safety equipment on your boat
  • read the boating safety tips
  • consider installing a marine radio on your boat.

Last updated: 27 June 2017