Section 4.5

Bulleting in Email

Bullets can help organize information visually so that it is easier to read. In email, bullet points are often a useful way to present material consisting of a series of items or otherwise list-like information. Compare the messages in Figures 13 and 14.

Figure 13 • List of Tasks Without Bullets

Figure 13 • List of Tasks Without Bullets

Figure 14 • Revised List of Tasks, with Bullets

Figure 14 • Revised List of Tasks, with Bullets

The email in Figure 14 is much easier to read — and therefore more likely to get the kind of organized, systematic response Mary would presumably like from Joan.

One problem with bullets is that some people use them to excess. The effect can be staccato and not particularly warm. Make sure you have enough text framing your bullet points so that your email sounds like you and not just a series of lists.

A format warning: bulleting isn’t always preserved on the recipient’s end, so consider using plain old hyphens in lieu of bullets. They aren’t pretty, but they won’t get garbled during transmission.