Thompson Rivers University
Thompson Rivers University

Lists

Parallel structure

We are easier to understand when we’re consistent. When writing a list of items in a series, whether run-in (in paragraph form) or in a vertical (bulleted) list, it is much clearer for the reader if each item follows the same structure. The items in this run-in list have a parallel structure, each starting with a verb, all in the same tense: “is designed”, “are employed”, “are interested”.

The Graduate Certificate in Child and Youth Mental Health program is designed for individuals who hold bachelor's or master's degrees; are employed as social workers, counsellors, child and youth care workers, education counsellors or nurses; and are interested in providing assessment and intervention to children, youth and families who are dealing with mental health issues.

Run-in lists (items in series)

Run-in lists that introduce items in a series with the word “including” do not require a colon.

TRU’s research centres offer unique nodes for collaboration in research and learning, including optimization and decision science, aging and health, and community and ecosystem ecology.

With colon: TRU’s research centres offer unique nodes for collaboration in research and learning: optimization and decision science, aging and health, and community and ecosystem ecology to name a few.

If any of the items in a series requires internal punctuation, all items should be separated by a semicolon.

Facilities Services is responsible for the renovation, maintenance and cleanliness of all TRU buildings, grounds and facilities; the provision of campus security, traffic control and parking; the provision of office and building keys; and furniture support services.

Vertical lists (outline style)

Vertical lists can stand alone with or without a heading.

Faculty of Arts departments
•    Department of English and Modern Languages
•    Department of Philosophy, History and Politics
•    Department of Sociology and Anthropology

Bulleted or numbered lists may be introduced by a complete sentence followed by a colon. These types of lists do not require internal or terminal punctuation.

Students must obtain the following documents:
•    official transcripts
•    a letter of permission
•    record of degree program

Bulleted lists that form part of a sentence and are not preceded by a colon require internal and terminal punctuation. (These lists are often better run into the text and should only be bulleted if the context demands that they be highlighted.)

Prior to registering for courses at another institution, students should obtain
•    an official transcript,
•    a letter of permission from academic advising, and
•    a record of degree program. 

When to use bulleted or numbered lists

Use numbered vertical lists to indicate order, chronology or relative importance. If order, chronology or importance need not be indicated, use bullets.

Vertical lists and capitalization

Do not capitalize the first word of items in a bulleted or numbered list unless it is a proper noun.

Services for:
•    distance and online students
•    international students
•    Aboriginal students
•    new and accepted students

Names and formal job titles should be capitalized and set off by commas when set into a vertical list.

Research and Graduate Studies Staff:
Will Garrett-Petts, Associate Vice-President, Research and Graduate Studies
Lincoln Smith, Director, Research Partnerships and Enterprise Creation
Troy Fuller, Manager, Research Services
Anita Sharma, Grants Development Officer

Vertical lists when writing for the web

Online, readers frequently scan text in an “F” pattern, scanning for key words at the beginning of lines. Therefore, current experts encourage greater use of vertical lists when writing for the web, to improve readability. The example of parallel structure above could be made more effective for the web by breaking it up into a vertical list with three bullet points:

The Graduate Certificate in Child and Youth Mental Health program is designed for individuals who
•   hold bachelor's or master's degrees
•   are employed as social workers, counsellors, child and youth care workers, education counsellors or nurses
•   are interested in providing assessment and intervention to children, youth and families who are dealing with mental health issues.