Using a Colon to Introduce Bullet Points

The Quick Answer
When using bullets:
  • Be consistent throughout the document with the formatting at the start and end of each bullet (i.e., keep the same use of capital letters and punctuation).
  • Make sure your bullet points align logically with the introduction.
  • Think about writing a full introduction (i.e., one which could stand alone). (There is some leniency on this with bullet points, but using a full introduction before your colon will keep your writing grammatically pure.)

Using Bullet Points

A colon can be used to introduce a vertical list (such as a numbered list or a list of bullet points).

Read about common formats for using bullet points.

When using a colon to introduce a list, the introduction itself (i.e., the text before the colon), should be a standalone clause. However, when a vertical list (like bullet points) is being introduced, there is a lot of leniency on this ruling.

Read more about the wording before a colon.

When using bullet points, a common format is to start each bullet with a capital letter and end it with a full stop. There are other formats with bullet points. Choose whichever one you like, but be consistent throughout your document.

Dr Mole won the following events:
  • Egg-and-spoon race.
  • Toss the pancake.
  • Apple bobbing.
Dr Mole won the following events:
  • egg-and-spoon race.
  • Toss the pancake
  • Apple bobbing.
(This list is not consistent. There is a small e on egg, and there is no full stop / period at the end of pancake.)
The birds listed below were spotted during the survey:
  • Dipper (two).
  • bittern (one).
  • Grey Wagtail (twelve).
(This list is not consistent. There is a small b on bittern.)

See Also

Using bullet points How to use colons to extend sentences Colons in references Using colons for introductions Colons with quotations