Vertical Lists, Bullets

Q. When a vertical list is introduced by a phrase (rather than a complete sentence), how is it punctuated?

A. Chicago recommends punctuating a phrase that introduces a list as if the list were a continuation of a sentence begun by the introductory phrase. This holds true whether the list is run into the text or presented vertically:

The items included bananas, pears, and grapes.


The items included


Many writers would add a colon after “included”—especially in the example with the vertical list, whose structure seems to warrant it. But a colon would separate the verb “include” from the objects it introduces.

To avoid that problem, add “the following” or otherwise reword the introduction so that it becomes an independent clause:

The items included the following:

or, for example,

The bag included three varieties of fruit:

See CMOS 6.130 for more examples and information.