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5 rules for bullet points

So you use bullet points ALL the time… but are you following the common rules for bullet points?

You want to catch your reader’s attention and make your text easy to scan, but you might be making your graphic designs hard to read without realizing it.

Read on for 5 rules for bullet points to make your next flier, PDF, or presentation clear and compelling.

5 rules for bullet points

1. Never center align bullets

This forces someone’s eye to have to dart back and forth down the page as they look for the beginning of the next bullet.

The point of bullets is to allow someone to easily scan through your design… and they can’t do that if they have to work hard to find the next bullet ??‍♀️

two bulleted text examples: one that is center aligned with a red x next to it, and one that is left aligned with a green check next to it

2. Never place bullets within a margin

This is confusing to the reader. It’s hard to tell if the beginning of the word is the start of a sentence, or a new bullet.
Always place bullets under a heading or within the page’s design.

two bulleted text examples: one that is aligned in the margin with a red x next to it, and one that is aligned under the heading with a green check next to it

 

3. Always add more space between bullets…

…than between line breaks within a single bullet.

You might think you’re making your bullets easier to read by adding spaces between all of the lines, but in reality, it makes it harder to see where one bullet ends and the next begins.

See how much easier it is the distinguish between bullets in the bottom example?

two bulleted text examples: one double spaced with a red x next to it, and one single spaced with a green check next to it

4. Always uniformly indent text that’s next to a bullet

See how your eye has to jump to a different spot at the beginning of each line?
It makes the text really difficult to skim (which defeats the point of bullets).

two bulleted text examples: one with uneven indents with a red x next to it, and one with even indents with a green check next to it.

5. And if you have a bunch of bullets…

…then you never want to list them all in the same section. Your reader is likely to skip over it entirely.
Instead, try grouping the bullets into different sections, and give each section a heading.

a bulleted text example with headings and a green check next to it.

Another option is to bold a summary word at the beginning of each bullet so someone can easily scan through.

See the difference? Much clearer ?

a bulleted text example with the first word of every bulleted bolded

 

Want to learn how to design with text so your content actually gets read? I have a whole lesson on this in Create with Confidence, my design course for non-designers!

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the designer that non-designers love!

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I used to work the 9-5 grind in the corporate world – like I was “supposed to” – until I blew it all up to do it my own way.

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