Vertical Lists, Bullets
Q. I am a course designer for a university, and I always have a difficult time figuring out how to handle punctuation and capitalization in multiple-choice questions. Do I capitalize the first letter of each choice? Do I add a period at the end of each choice? Does the rule change if it is a question rather than a statement?
Q. In a list of bulleted points where some are complete sentences and some are not, do you put a period at the end of a sentence, but not the list, or periods after all bulleted points, or none at all?
Q. What position does Chicago take on numbered lists within sentences? I’m editing a document in which the author frequently sets apart elements of a series with (1), (2), and (3). The enumeration rarely indicates a progression, and it is used in short and long sentences, even when only two elements of a series are listed. I think this practice is burdensome to the reader in many cases and makes the document appear too technical, but haven’t found anything to support my claim.
Q. I am editing a manuscript that will become a book. It is a type of instructional manual, but more informational than instructional. The writer is inconsistent with the use of bullets and numbers. Should a list be numbered only if the material is to be used as a guideline for a consecutive order of information? Should bullets be used simply as an outline of information in no particular order?
Q. In either numbered or bulleted vertical lists, what is the correct syntax? Should each item begin the same way—for example, with a verb?
Q. Two colleagues and I are disagreeing at work about the formatting of the text above vertical lists. The introductory element is often a few words, and it is usually not a complete grammatical sentence, yet we end the introductory element with a colon. One woman declared that this was wrong and that we should fix thousands of screens in hundreds of lessons by either rewriting the introductory element as a complete sentence or removing the colon. What do you think?
Q. I do not believe it makes sense to use a bulleted list of one item. If it is just one item, should it not simply be a paragraph? At the end of many of our sections in an advocacy guide we have “Advocacy Reminders.” Sometimes there are many; sometimes there is only one reminder. It seems to me if there is one reminder it should be a paragraph.
Q. When creating an outline for a research paper, does each object in the list regardless of hierarchy need to be a complete sentence?
Q. I’ve read your advice on vertical lists, but I’m still confused about how to punctuate a long vertical list that completes an introductory statement without punctuating it as one terribly long sentence.
Q. What are the proper guidelines for punctuating the phrases/clauses in a bulleted list?