Tools for Effective Writing: Bullet and Numbered Lists

pexels-photo-1329296.jpeg

Numbered lists help people take in information. Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com

When dealing with complex or dense information, breaking down text into bulleted or numbered lists eases reading and helps readers better scan and comprehend information, which leads better retention.

Let’s look at an example. Here is a typical style of paragraph found in corporate writings:

To be a productive employee, you must keep your workstation clean and organized, not spend excessive time watching cat videos on YouTube, keep chatting with coworkers to a minimum, and arrive promptly to all meetings. There will be consequences if your boss finds you to not be productive. First, you will receive a written warning. If unproductive behavior continues, your boss will have an official review of your work activities. The next step is a three-week unpaid leave of absence. The final step is feeding you to the alligators.

Here is how this information would look when broken down into a bulleted and numbered list. Note the headers in bold to draw attention to the information listed below.

To be a productive employee, you must:
• keep your workstation clean and organized
• not spend excessive time watching cat videos on YouTube
• keep chatting with coworkers to a minimum
• arrive promptly to all meetings

There will be consequences if your boss finds you to not be productive. Beginning with the first consequence, they are:
1. written warning
2. official review of your work activities
3. three-week unpaid leave of absence
4. feeding you to the alligators

In the second example, the reader can more directly access the important information because it is not in a cluttered, tightly packed paragraph.

More white space
Another positive aspect of using bulleted and numbered lists is the increased amount of white space this creates on the page. If you are reading a full page or more that is loaded with important information you need to know, looking at a page that appears uncluttered, due to the lists, makes the thought of getting through the material feel less daunting. If you are the one writing the material, the added white space results in more people actually reading your writing (because they feel it will take less time and the page looks less intimidating) and thus increased comprehension and retention of the information.

free author coaching session

Claim your free author coaching session here: https://www.dotanddashllc.com/coaching

 

Erin Servais is the founder of Dot and Dash, LLC, an author-services company focusing on women writers and offering a range of book editing, author coaching, and social media packages.

Sign up for the Dot and Dash newsletter to get writing tips and tricks and exclusive deals.  

Follow Dot and Dash on social media.
Twitter: @GrammarParty
Instagram: @dot_and_dash_llc
Facebook: facebook.com/dotanddashllc
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/dotanddashllc

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s