1. Breaking Down Information with Bullet Points

 
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Adding Bullet Points and Tables

8 lessons , 2 exercises , 1 exam

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Overview

We start this course by explaining the fundamentals of how and when to break down the core concepts of long stretches of text into bullet points.

Lesson Notes

Lesson Goal

Make information stand out with bullet points

 

Bullet points for making notes

There are a few ways to use bullet points.

When taking notes or writing a very informal document, bullet points are a quick and easy way of writing down lots of information in a clear way with easy to understand structure. To do this, make liberal use of indentation to highlight subpoints. Also, strip out all but the essential language.

 

Bullet points for professional documents

For a professional document, it’s a little more restrictive. You can use bullet points in 2 main ways.

The first is to break down a list of information. Say you’re listing all the store locations for your business. Rather than have one long sentence, use bullet points to instantly convey this information to the audience.

The second is to use numbered bullets to clearly indicate information that has a strict order. You could write paragraphs on your company values which have a strict order of importance. Using a numbered bullet list for each value clearly conveys the same information.

 

Using Bullet Points in Word

Setting up a bullet point list from scratch is simple. Just click the bullet points command and start typing. Use a hard return to separate bullets. Use tab to indent to the right and Shift and tab to indent to the left.

Converting normal text into bullets is tricker. Select the paragraph and click the bullet command. Then place the cursor where you want to create a new bullet and hit enter.

Then you’ll have to clean up. You’ll need to remove unnecessary punctuation at the beginning or end of the sentence.

The language may still be too complex for bullets so you may have to strip out words or even rewrite some bullets.

One efficient way to cut out words is to make the bullets parallel. You can do this if your bullets have a similar structure. For example, if every bullet describes the advantage of introducing a new product, there’s no need to start every bullet with “advantage because” or a similar variant. Simply place the words “advantageous because:” before the bullets and have each bullet complete the sentence.

Transcript

We'll start this course by looking at a quick and effective method for restructuring text. In this lesson, we'll make the information in our text stand out with bullet points. One way to emphasize important information within a paragraph is to use bold or italics. This is very useful when we want to emphasize text without changing the sentence or paragraph structure. When you're not limited to a strict structure of full sentences grouped into paragraphs, there's a lot more you can do to make your message clear and easily understood. This is where bullet points become very useful. Bullet points permit you to use shorter and snappier language.

Adding indentation to your bullets can give the reader an easy to understand view of the hierarchy of information. Bullet points can be a great way of boosting readability and condensing information when writing personal notes or informal documents. Although full sentences are often required in professional documents, there's still a place for bullet points.

There are two main uses for bullet points. First, it's when you want to clearly demonstrate a list of information. For example, if the text describes a list of store locations, it would be appropriate to use bullet points to break these down. The second use case is when you want to highlight information with a clear sequence. In this case you should use numbered bullets. For example, the text may describe a list of steps or instructions. You can use numbered bullets to break down the steps. We'll use a case study document from a company called Fetch Cuisine.

We'll identify where we can apply bullet points without affecting the professional look of the document. The text at the bottom half of page two offers the best use case for applying bullet points. The second paragraph of the section describes a list of company goals. Each line starts with first, second, or third. So this looks like a good use case for numbered bullet points.

To convert this text into bullet points, we'll select it and choose the numbering command in the ribbon. Note that if we use a soft return, we can type a new line without creating a new bullet. If we type a hard return, we'll add the next bullet. We'll undo this and move on. Next, we'll simplify the language. We'll remove redundant words, as well as spaces and periods at the end of each bullet.

These bullets are still a little too long.

We can shorten them by making the text parallel.

Parallel bullets share the same sentence structure.

This allows us to remove more words without reducing understanding.

To start, we'll remove the verb and some of the surrounding text in each bullet. We'll reuse some of the words from the first bullet point so we'll cut this selection.

We'll then delete the words in the following bullet points.

Finally, we'll capitalize the first word of every bullet.

As is, these bullets look incomplete.

Let's paste the words we cut above the bullets and add a colon.

Now it makes sense.

Each bullet naturally finishes the text above to form a complete sentence. As a result, each bullet has the exact same structure.

This is how parallel text and bullet points works. In the very next paragraph, we see another opportunity for bullet points. This paragraph is effectively a list of professionals working for the company. This information has no natural order so standard bullet points are appropriate.

However, the paragraph isn't just a simple list.

The different professions are grouped by their field. For example, software developers and data scientists are grouped together as IT experts. We can represent these groupings in the bullet points by indenting.

We'll start by entering a hard return at the beginning of the second sentence, selecting the new paragraph and clicking the bullets command.

We'll then place hard returns after such as, veterinarians, and experts.

Next, we'll select the second and third bullet and type tab to indent.

Note that by typing tab again, the bullet indents further to the right.

We can undo the indentation by holding shift and pressing tab.

It's now clear that veterinarians and animal husbandry experts are types of animal health experts. Of screen, I'll repeat these steps from nutrition experts and IT experts and get rid of any unnecessary words.

With that, our lesson is complete. In the next lesson, we'll look into how customizing bullets can further boost the information they convey without adding any extra text.