Death by bullet point applies to writing too!

Bullet points are just as bad in business writing as they are in PowerPoint.

There’s a growing tide of evidence, anecdotal and scientific, that bullet points are bad for presentations. They’re boring, they’re outdated, they cause something called “extraneous load.”

And yet, when people sit down to write, they seem to believe that bullet points are the ideal format–that they indicate quick, easy, readable.
No, they don’t.
As the evidence shows, when people see bullet points in presentations, they become bored and even hostile. Do you think something your audience hates in a presentation will give them warm and fuzzy feelings in an e-mail or proposal? No.
You know what tells your audience that content will be short and manageable? Short paragraphs and section headers.
Instead of using bullet points to break up information, use formatting techniques, like bolding and hard returns, to indicate well structured, easy-to-consume information.
Plus, bullet points don’t do much work to help your reader. They offer no prioritization or hierarchy of information. Think about using a numbered list instead so as to indicate steps in a sequence or levels of importance.
If you don’t have any hierarchy or order, then you probably don’t need bullet points at all. Paragraphs work even better.
Besides, bullet points waste space, and they waste the most valuable space–at the left margin of your paper or screen. Eye scanning studies show that English-language readers’ eyes focus on the left side of the screen the most. Don’t lose such important space to a dot.
Finally, bullet points prevent you from telling stories–and, more broadly, from engaging with a reader so that they will read from beginning to end. Stories are all the rage these days, and you can’t tell any compelling story through bullet points.
Even after the trend of “story-telling marketing” fades away, bullet points will still be clumsy tools that obscure the connections from one point to the next. Rather than a cohesive argument, readers are left with a series of (sometimes very loosely) related ideas.
But, wait, am I really suggesting that you can’t ever use bullet points? No, I’m not. Like all things in life, moderation is key. Bullet points work best for very short lists (about 3-5 words per item) of information.
A good rule of thumb: If you’re writing sentences, don’t use bullet points.

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