Bullet point lists

Date adopted: 
December 11, 2019
Last update: 
October 17, 2023

We follow the Plain English Campaign’s guidance when we format bullet point lists. There are 2 main types of lists.

  • A list that is a continuous sentence with several points picked out.
  • A list of separate points with an introductory statement.

With a list that’s part of a continuous sentence, put semicolons (;) after each point and start each point with a lowercase letter. Make sure each point follows logically and grammatically from the introduction.

Jean needed to take:

  • a penknife;
  • some string;
  • a pad of paper; and
  • a pen.

Here’s an example of a list where each point is separate and not part of 1 continuous sentence.

Jean needed to take the following:

  • A penknife
  • Some string
  • A pad of paper
  • A blue pen

Here’s an example of a longer list which is a continuous sentence.

The territories continue to work together on a number of fronts, including:

  • monitoring our shared renewable resources, such as caribou and polar bears;
  • researching the cumulative effects of development projects on the environment and wildlife species;
  • researching the effects of climate change on permafrost;
  • collaborating on social issues; and
  • speaking with a common voice about the infrastructure needs of the North.

Here’s an example of a longer list where the points are complete, which means there does not need to be a colon to introduce the list.

Recent changes in the North include the following.

  • The Northwest Territories has negotiated a devolution agreement with the federal government to take on responsibilities related to land and water, similar to that in Yukon.
  • Canada’s term as Arctic Council chair has brought international partners and projects to the nation’s northern regions, enhancing our relationships and profile across the circumpolar world, as well as with non-Arctic states.
  • The federal government’s Statement on Canada’s Arctic Foreign Policy delineates many issues in common with the territories, including promoting economic and social development, protecting the Arctic environment and empowering the people of the North through devolution of political power.

It’s often better to use bullet points rather than numbers or letters in a list, as bullet points draw your attention to each point without giving you extra information to take in.

Formatting a list on the web

Only use numbered lists for steps in a process on the web.