Vertical Lists, Bullets

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?

A. Various syntaxes work well (sentences, fragments, questions), but when the items are parallel in syntax, it creates an order and logic that helps readers take in information more easily than a mixture of constructions. Parallel doesn’t mean identical, however. If your items are complex, it may not be practical to match them word for word with parallel parts of speech. On the other hand, in a simple construction, close imitation is usually easy and effective. (If your first two items are “Stop” and “Drop,” you aren’t going to follow with “How to roll around when you’re on fire.”)