Using Bullet Points in Business Writing

Business writing must be concise, clearly organized, and easy to scan for important information. Bullet points—informative lists usually marked by geometric shapes (sometimes numbers)—can help you organize and emphasize information quickly and effectively, especially in emails, memos, meeting agendas, presentation talking points, and business letters. The purposes of bullet points include the following:

Effective bullet points rely on effective headings in documents: Use headings to signal to your audience what information your bullet points cover, which will make your document easier to scan for readers and help you organize your information effectively.

Bullet points, when overused, can detract from the goal of your document. If all of your information is bulleted, your audience may not understand which information is most important. This handout outlines the ways in which bullet points should be used as well as ineffective uses of bullet points in business writing.

How to use bullet points

Follow up a bulleted list with a sentence or two to give readers some closure.

Bullet points vs. numbers or letters

Do not be afraid of bullet points, but remember: bullet points are used to convey information quickly; using bullet points next to paragraphs of information will not help your audience find information easily.

Howe Writing Initiative ‧ Farmer School of Business ‧ Miami University

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