Lists Within Sentences

Within a sentence, separate items in a list with commas or with semicolons if the items in the list include commas. See also the "Punctuation" page.

  • The roommates came from Boise, Idaho; Akron, Ohio; and Burnaby, British Columbia.

Numbered Lists

Introduce items in a vertical list with numbers only when the order matters. Otherwise, use bullets or other typographical symbols. If items are numbered, a period follows each number, and each entry begins with a capital letter—whether or not the entry forms a complete sentence. Avoid putting long sentences or a string of sentences in list form; rather, set them as numbered paragraphs.

If you are the first one to spot a fire:

  1. Close your office door behind you.
  2. Find and pull the nearest fire alarm.
  3. Leave the building via the nearest stairwell.

Bulleted Lists

If any or all of the items in a vertical list are complete sentences, punctuate all items in the list with periods. If no items are sentences, omit punctuation at the end of each item, including the last one. (Be consistent within a document in how you treat similar types of lists.)

This course has several graded projects:

  • A midterm test
  • A final exam
  • A team project
  • A research paper
  • A weekly log for analyzing your field work

When you move to college for the first time, you usually:

  • Bring too many things for your dorm room
  • Forget a few essential items
  • End up sharing some items with your roommate

If the sentence introducing the list is a complete sentence, it can end in a period, colon or no punctuation at all depending on the context (following and as follows require a colon). Use a line space, or partial line space, before and after all vertical lists.