Do you avoid full stops in lists and captions?

Last updated by Brady Stroud [SSW] 3 days ago.See history

Excess punctuation without a purpose can make a document or web page look overly busy. This can add a surprising amount of visual clutter.

As a general rule, avoid full stops in lists and captions altogether.

Bullet points should be short and sharp, and should generally not require full stops at all.

If your bullet point has more than one sentence, consider separating it into two bullet points instead. Alternatively, consider a different separator - like a dash; you could also consider a semicolon instead.

However, if it is necessary for your bullet point to have more than one sentence (should be rare), you of course need the full stop. In this case, you must include the full stop at the end as well. And, for consistency, all the bullet points in that list should also end with a full stop.

Important: Note the mention of "in that list". The rest of the bullet points on your page should not have full stops; only those in that list or group.

::: greybox

  • Sentence 1.
  • Sentence 2.
  • Sentence 3. ::: ::: bad Figure: Bad example - Too much punctuation :::

::: greybox

  • Sentence 1
  • Sentence 2. Sentence 3
  • Sentence 4 ::: ::: bad Figure: Bad example - Full stop is only used on multiple sentences, but not at the end :::

::: greybox

  • Sentence 1
  • Sentence 2. Sentence 3.
  • Sentence 4 ::: ::: ok Figure: OK example - Full stop is used on multiple sentences, and at the end, but the bullets are inconsistent :::

::: greybox

Full stops should not be used in bullet lists, e.g.:

  • In this list of bullet points there are no full stops
  • So this one doesn't have one either
  • Or this one

However, if you need full stops, make sure your bullets end with them and you maintain consistency, e.g.:

  • In this point, there is a full stop. Because of that, there needs to be one at the end too.
  • Because a bullet in this list has a full stop, they all need one.
  • Even this. ::: ::: good Figure: Good example - Full stops are avoided where possible, but used correctly and consistently where necessary :::
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