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How to Hit a Bull's Eye With Bullet Points

Bullet points (or “bullets”) have become a staple on web pages, in sidebars, for PowerPoint presentations, even in direct mail. They present information in list form.

Writing tips for writing bullet points with Word Wise at Nonprofit Copywriter

Bullets are indented, short phrases, preceded by small dots, squares, dashes or graphics.

They’re everywhere, and readers like them.

That’s because bullets are short. They’re easy to read, especially online. And if done well, bullet points give you a “quick and dirty” summary of information.

But one note of caution … it’s easy use them as a crutch. Writers who get sloppy try to cram too much into each point or group them erratically. Use these tips to keep on target as you shoot out simple ideas in bullets.

Pick one idea per bullet

Use additional bullets to create additional thoughts.

Place similar concepts together

  • List related ideas, qualities or attributes together in one bullet list
  • More than 6 items requires a separate bullet list

Practice parallelism

  • Start every bullet with the same part of speech (verbs are strongest, then nouns)
  • Look for ways to use the same letter to start each bullet

Prioritize

  • Avoid clutter
  • No subtitles or outlines, please – bullets are meant to streamline copy
  • If you want to write complete sentences, use paragraphs instead
  • Keep your bullet list to 6 points or less

One final tip: use the 6 x 6 rule

This simple tip for constructing effective bullet list is commonly applied to PowerPoint slides but is appropriate elsewhere, too.

  • Use six bullets or less per slide
  • Use six words or less per bullet


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