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AP Stylebook: Use periods after bullets

 

The Associate Press Stylebook says when writing lists “use periods, not semicolons, at the end of each section, whether it is a full sentence or a phrase.”

It’s hard for some people to wrap their heads around this rule, especially if each item on the list is not a full sentence. To make peace with periods in a list, think of the entire list (including the lead-in word or phrase) as several sentences (all of which need a period at the end).

To see what I mean, read the lead-in word or phrase then read the first item on the list. Next, read the lead-in word or phrase again followed by the second item on the list. Continue from there down the list. Try it with these examples and see if the period makes more sense.

I voted on election day because I:

  • Want my candidate to win.
  • Like to exercise my right to vote.
  • Believe every vote counts.

To illustrate the example, you’d say “I voted on election day because I want my candidate to win.” “I voted on election day because I like to exercise my right to vote.” “I voted on election day because I believe every vote counts.”

Try it with a list of shorter items like this.

My son likes to play:

  • Soccer.
  • Baseball.
  • Tennis.
  • Basketball.

Does this help? If all else fails, when it comes to accepting AP style: Just do it. If nothing else, your writing will be consistent. And consistency goes a long way in creating clear, credible content.

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