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Bullet-point conventions

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  • Simon Vaughan
    Me again, I m afraid. I have a couple of questions regarding the formatting of bullet points in English documents. I d be very grateful if anyone could tell
    Message 1 of 11 , Aug 2, 2001
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      Me again, I'm afraid.

      I have a couple of questions regarding the formatting of bullet points in
      English documents. I'd be very grateful if anyone could tell me what the
      conventions are in the following cases:

      1. At the beginning of a bullet point, should:

      a) any initial article be omitted, if the bullet point doesn't follow on
      from the sentence above;
      b) the first letter of the first word be capitalized?

      2. At the end of a bullet point, should there be any punctuation (e.g. a
      semi-colon)?

      Thanks,

      Simon
    • JPKIRCHNER@aol.com
      Simon, you re getting us into a big can of worms. The answer to all your questions is either yes or no depending on which styleguide you use. ... Use your
      Message 2 of 11 , Aug 2, 2001
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        Simon, you're getting us into a big can of worms. The answer to all your
        questions is either "yes" or "no" depending on which styleguide you use.

        In a message dated 8/2/01 4:00:30 PM, rachelandsimon@... writes:

        >1. At the beginning of a bullet point, should:
        >
        >a) any initial article be omitted, if the bullet point doesn't follow on
        >from the sentence above;

        Use your native-speaker instincts to decide whether the article belongs there
        or not. Sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn't, but there's no rule.

        >b) the first letter of the first word be capitalized?

        If each bullet point is a sentence, yes. If it is an independent list, but
        does not contain sentences, probably. If each bullet point is a fragment
        proceeding from an incomplete sentence in the copy above it, no.

        >2. At the end of a bullet point, should there be any punctuation (e.g.
        >a semi-colon)?

        As a rule, you should put the same punctuation after each item as you would
        in a series, including a period at the end of the last one, if it ends a
        sentence. If the list is independent of any sentence, though, I would not
        punctuate them on the end at all, unless each item is a self-contained
        sentence.

        A lot of this also depends on what structure precedes the list. If you get a
        full sentence that ends with a colon, for example, "We bought the following
        items:", then I would treat the bullet points as independent of the sentence,
        initial-cap them, and use no punctuation. If the list is preceded by
        something like, "We bought:", I would use the same capitalization and
        punctuation rules as I would for a series within a sentence.

        But, again, this is all highly variable, and you can find at least one style
        manual to support almost anything you want to do.


        Jamie
      • Simon Vaughan
        ... I use Fowler, Partridge, Gower and Strunk & White, but unfortunately all four of these were written before the era of the bullet point (those halcyon
        Message 3 of 11 , Aug 3, 2001
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          > Simon, you're getting us into a big can of worms. The answer to all
          > your questions is either "yes" or "no" depending on which styleguide
          > you use.

          I use Fowler, Partridge, Gower and Strunk & White, but unfortunately all
          four of these were written before the era of the bullet point (those
          halcyon days!).

          Capitalization:
          > If each bullet point is a sentence, yes. If it is an independent list,
          > but does not contain sentences, probably. If each bullet point is a
          > fragment proceeding from an incomplete sentence in the copy above it,
          > no.

          Punctuation:
          > As a rule, you should put the same punctuation after each item as you
          > would in a series, including a period at the end of the last one, if it
          > ends a sentence. If the list is independent of any sentence, though,
          > I would not punctuate them on the end at all, unless each item is a
          > self-contained sentence.

          This is exactly what I've been doing; I was just starting to get worried
          that, as I have all kinds of list in the document I'm working on, this
          apparent inconsistency might be frowned upon. Word contributes to this
          anxiety, as it insists that every bullet point be started with a capital
          letter; I know not to trust Word, and I've turned the 'grammar checker'
          off, but it still nags.

          > A lot of this also depends on what structure precedes the list. If you
          > get a full sentence that ends with a colon, for example, "We bought
          > the following items:", then I would treat the bullet points as
          > independent of the sentence, initial-cap them, and use no
          > punctuation. If the list is preceded by something like, "We bought:",
          > I would use the same capitalization and punctuation rules as I would
          > for a series within a sentence.

          Yes, good advice.

          Simon
        • Lindsay
          Hi Simon A long time ago, bbp (before bullet points) I worked as a typist. Dashes (or *) were used instead, so there has not been any change. I d go along
          Message 4 of 11 , Aug 3, 2001
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            Hi Simon

            A long time ago, bbp (before bullet points) I worked as a typist. Dashes
            (or *) were used instead, so there has not been any change. I'd go along
            with all that Jamie says. It really depends on the sense that it all makes.
            If the bullet pointed lines look as though they are a part of the sentence
            then treat them as such. I used to find that if the bullet points followed
            on from a colon then the lines with bullet points looked silly being
            complete sentences and I'd take it back to the writer of the piece to make
            them re-write it (especially when they'd written a mixture of sentences and
            end half of sentences). I agree with what Jamie says that there are no hard
            and fast rules. You've just got to use your common sense really.

            Lindsay


            ----- Original Message -----
            From: Simon Vaughan <rachelandsimon@...>
            To: <Czechlist@yahoogroups.com>
            Sent: Friday, August 03, 2001 9:19 AM
            Subject: Re: [Czechlist] Bullet-point conventions


            > > Simon, you're getting us into a big can of worms. The answer to all
            > > your questions is either "yes" or "no" depending on which styleguide
            > > you use.
            >
            > I use Fowler, Partridge, Gower and Strunk & White, but unfortunately all
            > four of these were written before the era of the bullet point (those
            > halcyon days!).
            >
            > Capitalization:
            > > If each bullet point is a sentence, yes. If it is an independent list,
            > > but does not contain sentences, probably. If each bullet point is a
            > > fragment proceeding from an incomplete sentence in the copy above it,
            > > no.
            >
            > Punctuation:
            > > As a rule, you should put the same punctuation after each item as you
            > > would in a series, including a period at the end of the last one, if it
            > > ends a sentence. If the list is independent of any sentence, though,
            > > I would not punctuate them on the end at all, unless each item is a
            > > self-contained sentence.
            >
            > This is exactly what I've been doing; I was just starting to get worried
            > that, as I have all kinds of list in the document I'm working on, this
            > apparent inconsistency might be frowned upon. Word contributes to this
            > anxiety, as it insists that every bullet point be started with a capital
            > letter; I know not to trust Word, and I've turned the 'grammar checker'
            > off, but it still nags.
            >
            > > A lot of this also depends on what structure precedes the list. If you
            > > get a full sentence that ends with a colon, for example, "We bought
            > > the following items:", then I would treat the bullet points as
            > > independent of the sentence, initial-cap them, and use no
            > > punctuation. If the list is preceded by something like, "We bought:",
            > > I would use the same capitalization and punctuation rules as I would
            > > for a series within a sentence.
            >
            > Yes, good advice.
            >
            > Simon
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            > Czechlist: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Czechlist
            > Post message: Czechlist@yahoogroups.com
            >
            > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
            >
            >
          • JPKIRCHNER@aol.com
            ... And sometimes your common sense says your client is ignorant about bullet points, and you have to distort the established style to make everything look
            Message 5 of 11 , Aug 3, 2001
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              In a message dated 8/3/01 4:10:02 PM, wlockyer@... writes:

              >I agree with what Jamie says that there are no hard
              >and fast rules. You've just got to use your common sense really.

              And sometimes your common sense says your client is ignorant about bullet
              points, and you have to distort the established style to make everything look
              "consistent" to him (or her).

              Jamie
            • Jiri Pelka
              Hi Jamie, Simon and all bullet-point interested guys, I agree with final Jamie s comment, that is, that one has to follow customer s lead. Typically, in the
              Message 6 of 11 , Aug 4, 2001
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                Hi Jamie, Simon and all bullet-point interested guys,

                I agree with final Jamie's comment, that is, that one has to follow
                customer's lead.

                Typically, in the English language EU Law documents I have seen until
                now everything possible

                - no commas
                - commas
                - semicolons

                and, what is perplexing, sometimes even colons (followed bya sub-
                items).

                Have a great Sunday.

                Jiri
              • Simon Vaughan
                ... What s so perplexing about that? One of the principal functions of the colon is to introduce a list of subsidiary points. Simon
                Message 7 of 11 , Aug 5, 2001
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                  > and, what is perplexing, sometimes even colons (followed bya
                  > sub-items).

                  What's so perplexing about that? One of the principal functions of the
                  colon is to introduce a list of subsidiary points.

                  Simon
                • Simon Vollam
                  Hi Simon, The EU Translation Service s style guide offers some handy and sensible advice on bullet points. It also contains a lot of other useful info on
                  Message 8 of 11 , Aug 5, 2001
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                    Hi Simon,

                    The EU Translation Service's style guide offers some handy and
                    sensible advice on bullet points. It also contains a lot of other
                    useful info on English and the EU.

                    http://europa.eu.int/comm/translation/en/stygd/index.htm

                    I offer it mainly by way of example. Jamie is right about the lack of
                    agreement between the various sources in this area. I also agree that
                    it can be difficult to explain to clients about apparent lapses in
                    consistency within a particular text.

                    Simon
                  • rachelandsimon@volny.cz
                    ... Thanks a lot, Si. The site looks surprisingly sensible; I suspect I ll be going back to it for guidance on things other than bullet points. Simon
                    Message 9 of 11 , Aug 5, 2001
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                      > http://europa.eu.int/comm/translation/en/stygd/index.htm

                      Thanks a lot, Si. The site looks surprisingly sensible; I suspect
                      I'll be going back to it for guidance on things other than bullet
                      points.

                      Simon
                    • Simon Vollam
                      ... Yes, it is surprisingly sensible. If only its recommendations were heeded by a few more Eurocrats! Simon
                      Message 10 of 11 , Aug 5, 2001
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                        --- In Czechlist@y..., rachelandsimon@v... wrote:
                        > > http://europa.eu.int/comm/translation/en/stygd/index.htm
                        >
                        > Thanks a lot, Si. The site looks surprisingly sensible; I suspect
                        > I'll be going back to it for guidance on things other than bullet
                        > points.
                        >
                        > Simon

                        Yes, it is surprisingly sensible. If only its recommendations were
                        heeded by a few more Eurocrats!

                        Simon
                      • PSS Praha - Coilin O' Connor
                        Hi there, I hope ye are all having a better weekend than I am. :-) I have been just been doing a production proposal for a film company. It is all fairly
                        Message 11 of 11 , Aug 5, 2001
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                          Hi there,

                          I hope ye are all having a better weekend than I am. :-)

                          I have been just been doing a production proposal for a film company. It is
                          all fairly straightforward up until the proposed budget breakdown at the
                          end, where there are one or two items listed, which I am not sure about. It
                          is not as if the words themselves are difficult per se, I just cannot
                          imagine what an English speaker might call them in this particular
                          situation. Naturally, there is almost zero context, but maybe there is
                          someone out there, who has worked in this area, who might know what the
                          following phrases would be in English... The words I find most confusing
                          have a question mark after them.

                          vyhledavani lokaci - nabidneme motivy (?) z fotograficke databaze

                          Hend stylist (Hand stylist??)

                          studio mix/ ruchy (?) atd.

                          prepis(rerecording? transcription?)/volání (?)

                          and then there is also one of the crew whose job is "kreativa". Is this
                          some sort of creative director or is my hangover-addled brain missing
                          something?

                          Many thanks in advance to anyone who might be able to help.

                          Best regards

                          Coilin
                          >
                          >
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