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How to Incorporate Bullet Points in Your Online Article Submission
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Bullet points make your articles easier to read.

Recently I asked you “What Is Outstanding Content To You?”, and your responses were enlightening!

Some of your ideas were right on par with what I was expecting, but I was surprised to see how many folks specifically requested that authors use bullet points in their articles.

Some of you even said that if the article did not have bullet points or some type of numbered list, that you wouldn’t read the article.

Interesting!

How’s that for a motivation to incorporate bullet points in your articles?

Why Bullet Points Are Helpful To Readers

Bullet points make your article easier to read, and they help direct the reader’s attention to specific points or ideas that are important.

You may think that your entire article is important and that any reader should be willing to read through your article word by word and paragraph by paragraph, thoughtfully considering the article as a whole.

Your entire article IS important, but we must present the information in a way that is easier for an online reader to digest.

  • Online readers are in a hurry.
  • Online readers are easily distracted.
  • Online readers have many different articles that are competing for their attention.
  • Online readers are trying to read off of a computer screen, which is not the easiest on the eyes.

Writing for the web is different than writing for the offline world. As you’re doing online article submissions, it’s important to learn how to write in a format that is attractive to online readers.

Rules For Bullet Points

Bullet points are used to bring attention to items in a list and spotlight important information in your article.

Bullet points are used to:

  • Spotlight important information in your article
  • Bring attention to items in a list

Here are some general guidelines for using bullet points in your articles:

–Ideally, bullet points would consist of a short snippet of information, rather than a long paragraph.

–Group your bullet points by subject matter. Each section of bullet points should be related to each other.

–Your bullet points should stand apart from the rest of your article. You can accomplish this by putting the bullet point on its own line.

–If your bullet points are sentence fragments, try to make them start with the verb (such as in the bulleted list at the beginning of this section).

–If you have an itemized list that is sequential (such as steps in a how-to article), you would use a numbered list (1, 2, 3) rather than bullet points.

How To Punctuate Bullet Points

If your bullet point is a complete sentence (if it includes a subject and a verb), such as the first set of bullet points in this post, then a period or other appropriate ending punctuation is grammatically correct.

If your bullet points are just phrases (such as in the second set of bullet points in this post), then you do not need to include any ending punctuation.

Do not end your bullet points with a comma or semi-colon.

For optimum readability it is a good idea to have all bullet points in a set be complete sentences or partial phrases, rather than mixing the two. So, if you have three bullet points that are phrases and one that is a complete sentence, try to make the sentence into a phrase, to match the style of the other three points.

Or, if you can’t accomplish that, try to put all of your phrases as your first bullet points and save the complete sentences for the final bullet points in your list.

How To Make Bullet Points In Your Article

When you’re submitting your articles your bullet points can take these forms:

  • You can use an asterisk *.
  • You can use an arrow, created by using an equal sign and a “greater than” symbol (=>).
  • You can use a double hyphen (–).
  • I’ve also seen people use other general symbols that can be found on your keyword, such as # and >>.

Most publishers require that articles are submitted in text only, so these are some “text only” types of bullets.

Bullet Point Article Examples

Example 1

Example 2

Example 3

Your Homework

We all want our articles to have the most views possible, and articles that are easier to read definitely have a leg up on the competition.

Writing an article with bullet points is a pretty easy way to make your article easier to read. Articles that are mainly bulleted lists are also easier to write.

This week, write an article that contains a bulleted list. Employ the guidelines above, and pay particular attention to “readability”. Your goal this time is to make your article easy to skim. Be sure that your bullet points are not too long and that they stand out.

Then, give a link to your article in the comments–it’s fun to look at how other people use bullet points!

Photo credits:

My Bullet Points are Deadly by madmarv00

Back against the wall by Canolais


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10 Responses to “How to Incorporate Bullet Points in Your Online Article Submission”

  1. Tom Dewell says:

    This is a point I often forget. I know that I like reading articles with bullet points, so why wouldn’t others?

    Thanks for the reminder of a simple way to get people to read further, and maybe even get them to a hyperlink to your sales pitch!

  2. I don’t get it, why wouldn’t real bullets be used instead of character symbols. If we need to use the html tag to format bullet text then shouldn’t we be using that instead?

  3. SuperbadIM says:

    I like to use headings more than bullet points. Mainly because headings help with the word count and it’s very natural to go into a brief explanation after the heading. Maybe I’ll try to use both headings and bullet points!?

  4. Steve Shaw says:

    @John Chartrand

    In the article body, you would not use any HTML at all, as most publishers want text only articles. That instruction is for folks who are submitting through SubmitYOURArticle.com. The articles need to be submitted in text format only because we are submitting to a large distribution network, and most publishers want text articles.

    The suggestions in the article were for indicating bullets with text only formatting.

    If you are manually submitting to an article directory that accepts some HTML in the article body, then you may be able to use bullets that are not text only.

  5. sanjeev says:

    Hi, That is an interesting point – i liked it, i was using bullets before but never realized the importance and teh art of using them correctly.

  6. Ed says:

    Outstanding Steve,

    Yep, how right to put bullet points into your presentation of what your conveying…

    You got this right !

    Libertyed

  7. I am new here and have been wondering about how to include bullet points. I agree that it makes articles easier to read when you can’t bold subheadings to break the article up. Pleased you have answered that Steve.

    Cheers, Sandy

  8. @SuperbadIM: I was wondering the same thing. I hope Steve has time to respond.

  9. Steve Shaw says:

    @SuperbadIM

    Headings also help with readability, but there is no reason that you can’t use both. Depending on how long your article is (say at least 400 words), it may look very natural to divide your article using sub-headings and then to use bullet points where appropriate.

    I usually use bullet points, a numbered list, or sub-headings in most of my articles, and sometimes I will use a combination of two of those in an article.

    If you are used to doing a lot of sub-heading articles, then it may be a nice change of pace to purposefully create articles that require bullet points–it’s nice to write different types of articles, and you may find that the bullet point articles are more effective for you.

  10. Toni Aull says:

    Your Column has been very helpful to me…..

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