Use parallel construction to help readers

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Make lists parallel.

When composing bulleted lists, put every entry in the same format. That is, make all entries parallel, consistent, similar.

  • Start every bullet with a verb — or with a fragment or a noun clause. But make them all the same.
  • If one bullet contains only a single phrase, make the other entries match.
  • Capitalize every entry, whether complete sentence or just a frag.
  • Use identical punctuation to end every bullet. I recommend a period.

Example. Here is a list of “quick tips about exercise.”

  1. Exercising only 30 minutes per day, three times a week, can improve your lifestyle.
  2. Exercising with a companion encourages you to reach your fitness goal.
  3. Surround yourself with people who share similar fitness goals.
  4. If you make fitness fun, you are more likely to stick with your program.
  5. Get help in developing a plan that allows you to eat well and offers a variety of foods.
  6. Research suggests that exercising may add years to your life.

I recommend

  • Starting every bullet with a command, or imperative, verb, like Surround, above.
  • Removing bullets 4 and 6, neither of which is a tip. Put them before or after the list.
  • Use bullets, not numbers. (I used numbers above simply to be able to refer to it more easily.) Numbers imply a logical sequence, but these tips are in random order. Alphabetizing them is a grand idea.

Here’s a an edited version of the quick tips.

Research suggests that exercising may add years to your life.

  • Exercise only 30 minutes per day, three times a week, can improve your lifestyle.
  • Exercise with a companion to help you reach your fitness goal.
  • Surround yourself with people who share similar fitness goals.
  • Make fitness fun so that you are more likely to stick with your program.
  • Get help in developing a plan that allows you to eat well and offers a variety of foods.

Read more about parallel construction.

By the way, the theory of parallelism applies to all sentences and paragraphs, not just lists of bullets.