Using bullet points

Learning focus

To understand how to punctuate bullet points accurately.

This lesson includes:

  • two videos

  • three activities

Learn

Bullet points are used to organise and structure writing. They make long or complicated pieces of text easier to understand because they break the text down.

Using bullet points in your writing is also a useful way of getting information across to your reader quickly.

Watch the following video to learn more about using bullet points.

Using bullet points to make your writing clearer.

Let's look at another example.

I visited my friend and we played computer games, football, a board game, chess and the piano.

Could become:

I visited my friend and we played:

  • computer games

  • football

  • a board game

  • chess

  • the piano

Top tip!

  • You always need an introductory sentence (punctuated with a colon) to let the reader know what your list is about.

  • The introductory sentence is sometimes called the 'stem'.

  • You do not need to include the word ‘and’ in a bullet point list.

Now watch this clip. You can dance along to energise your understanding of bullet points, if you like!

Learn about bullet points with Geordie the Pigeon

Punctuating bullet points

1. If the text following a bullet point is a complete sentence, it should begin with a capital letter and end with a full stop, question mark or exclamation mark.

For example:

Equipment needed for our camping trip:

  • We will bring a tent to keep us dry.
  • I will bring extra blankets to keep us warm at night.
  • Everyone will bring walking boots so we can go for a hike.

2. If the text after a bullet point isn’t a full sentence, it does not need a capital letter or full stop.

For example:

Equipment needed for our camping trip:

  • tent
  • blankets
  • walking boots

Top tips!

  • Each new item in your bullet point list goes on a new line.

  • Sometimes you might see semi-colons (;) being used after the items in a bullet point list. You do not need to do this if you don't want to - the most important thing is to stick to one style and to be consistent.

  • Don't get carried away! If you need more than five bullet points, it's usually clearer to number your points instead.

Practise

You may need paper and a pen or pencil for some of these activities.

Activity 1

Check your understanding. Can you highlight the words that can be turned into a list of bullet points?

Activity 2

What would you need in order to spend a perfect day?

Create some bullet point lists to explain what you would like to happen or have during your perfect day. You could use some of these introductory sentences (stems) to help you:

My perfect morning would include:

My perfect afternoon would involve:

Ingredients for my perfect meal are:

Items needed for my perfect day:

People I would include in my perfect day:

Try to write at least two different sets of bullet points - one that includes full sentences and one that doesn't.

Top tip!

Bullet point lists with full sentences need to include capital letters and punctuation. For example:

My dream morning:

  • I will wake up early and make my favourite breakfast.
  • I will put on my most colourful clothes.
  • I will go for a ride on my bike in the sun!

Activity 3

Write these bullet point lists out as full sentences.

  1. The children were given a choice of sandwich fillings:
  • cheese
  • ham
  • tuna
  • egg
  • jam
  1. For your gym session today, please complete 20 of each:
  • squats
  • lunges
  • high-knees
  • jumping-jacks
  • press-ups

 

Now write these sentences out as bullet point lists.

  1. The children saw many animals at the zoo including elephants, lions, tigers, giraffes, penguins and camels.

  2. For their residential trip, the children need a variety of labelled items such as a pair of wellingtons; a sleeping bag with a ground sheet; 2 pairs of trainers; a water-proof jacket and trousers; a warm jumper and lots of socks!

 

You can check your answers using this answer sheet.

Where next?

In this lesson you have learned how to punctuate bullet points accurately.

There are other useful articles on Bitesize to help you understand more about punctuation:

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