Branding Standards Guide

How to Use Lists

Several things affect the capitalization and punctuation of vertical lists (numbered, unnumbered and bulleted lists): how they are introduced; whether they are sentences or part of sentences; length of items; and stylistic consistency. Consistency within the document for similar types of lists is the most important consideration.

Consistency
Keep bulleted lists consistent and parallel. Shorter text is more effective than lengthy bullets.

Capitalization
Begin each item with an uppercase letter.

Punctuation of Items
Ordinarily, no periods are needed. However, if one item in the list is a complete sentence, then each entry must have a period. Also, if the items are long phrases, commas or semicolons may be used. If commas or semicolons are used, the final item is followed by a period. Even if the vertical list completes a sentence begun in the introductory element, do not use a final period unless the items in the list are separated by commas or semicolons.

Numbering of Items
It is not necessary to number items in a list unless the order of the elements must be maintained (as in a set of instructions), or if the element is referred to by letter or number elsewhere in the text. If enumerating, use a period without parentheses after the number or letter. (Example: 1.) However, if enumerating in text rather than with a list, numbers or letters are enclosed in parentheses without a period (1).

Use of Colon
Introduce each list with a colon.

Parallel Structure
Keep the elements in a vertical list parallel. If the verb has been included as part of the introductory statement, another verb should not be part of one of the listed elements.

Correct Example:
The CSU, through its expenditures and the enhanced earnings of its graduates in the workforce, impacts California’s economy in several major ways:

  • Generating a $70 billion total annual spending impact in the state
  • Supporting more than 485,000 jobs in the state
  • Creating $4.9 billion in tax revenue for the state and local governments

Incorrect Example:
The CSU, through its expenditures and the enhanced earnings of its graduates in the workforce, impacts California’s economy in several major ways:

  • It generates a $70 billion total annual spending impact in the state.
  • 485,000 jobs
  • Creating $4.9 billion in tax revenue for the state and local governments