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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.

nataliejost May 28, 2008, 6:49am

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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.

Rob May 28, 2008, 2:53pm

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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."

Tolken June 9, 2008, 5:59am

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

vera July 9, 2008, 12:25pm

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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

Tom August 7, 2008, 3:03pm

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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?"

Mike January 30, 2009, 9:20pm

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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.

crbrimer89 March 19, 2009, 2:18pm

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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.)

writerswrite2005 March 20, 2009, 8:58am

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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?".

cmm05 July 19, 2010, 12:00pm

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Yes     No