Submitted by kaitlin on May 27, 2008

Questions in Bulleted Lists

Is it appropriate to use a bulleted list in a question? Example:

Which type of flour would you use for the following items: - bread - cake - cookies

Would you put a question mark at the end of each bullet? Would you only use a question mark at the end of the last bullet? Does the sentence need to be re-worded?

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That's a good question. If it were me, I'd replace the colon with a question mark and leave the list as is.

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There are many occasions in the English language where something that is not technically incorrect is still bad from a stylistic perspective. That's what I think you're dealing with here.

I suggest ending the initial part of the question with a colon, then following with the three items separated by commas or--if they're longer options--by semicolons. Bullet points are certainly an option, but I don't know the rules on how those are handled.

Best of luck.

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Punctuation of bulleted lists is always a nasty. My advice is always that if you can't express exacty what you want to express WITHOUT PUNCTUATION then don't use a bulleted list at all.

Don't put ", or" or ", and" at the end of bullet items, either.

The trick: finish a sentence before beginning the bulleted list. NJ's suggestion is very sensible. If you want to be scrupulous, rewrite the sentence:

"For each item in the following list, which type of flour would you use?"

or even replace it with an imperative:

"For each item in the following list, state the type of flour you would use."

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I was going to suggest to just say "Name the type of flower..." but Tolken beat me to it. :)

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I would likely format it like so


Which type of flour would you use for the following items?

a) bread

b) cake

c) cookies

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"Which type of flour would you use for bread? Which type of flour would you use for cake? Which type of flour would you use for cookies?"

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When I first read this, I thought, "why even have bullets?" Then I saw that the three items did, in fact, require different types of flour. The way I would do it is as follows:

Which type of flour would you use for the following items:
1. bread

2. cake

3. cookies

But if you wanted them to end in question marks you would want it to look like this:

Which type of flour would you use to make...

1. bread?

2. cake?

3. cookies?

That is my opinion.

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Does it have to be a question?

I'd change the stem to:

Identify the type of flour you would use for:

- bread.

- cake.

- cookies.

(Each item in the list can be placed at the end of the stem to make it a complete sentence, which is why I added punctuation.)

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How do I punctuate a bulleted list of questions? For example:
Repondents were asked three three questions: "How old are you?"; "What is your race?"; and "What is your ethnicity?".

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