Lists within Sentences

Within a sentence, separate items in a list with commas, or with semicolons if the items in the list include commas.

  • The roommates came from Boise, Idaho; Akron, Ohio; and Burnaby, British Columbia.

Vertical Lists

Introduce items in a vertical list with numbers only when the order matters. Otherwise, use bullets or other typographical symbols. If items are numbered, a period follows each number, and each entry begins with a capital letter—whether or not the entry forms a complete sentence. Avoid putting long sentences or a string of sentences in list form; rather, set them as numbered paragraphs and indent only the first line.

If you are the first one to spot a fire:

  1. Close your office door behind you.
  2. Find and pull the nearest fire alarm.
  3. Leave the building via the nearest stairwell.

This course has several graded projects:

  • a midterm test
  • a final exam
  • a team project
  • a research paper
  • a weekly log for analyzing your field work

If any or all of the items in a vertical list are complete sentences, punctuate all items in the list with periods. If no items are sentences, follow each with a comma and end the list with a period if the list completes a sentence, or omit punctuation at the end of each item, including the last one. (Be consistent within a document in how you treat similar types of lists.)

When you move to college for the first time, you usually

  • bring too many things for your dorm room,
  • forget a few essential items, and
  • end up sharing some items with your roommate.

If the sentence introducing the list is a complete sentence, it can end in a period or a colon, whichever seems appropriate (following and as follows require a colon). If the introductory material is not a complete sentence, use the punctuation mark that’s appropriate for the context, whether that’s a comma, semicolon, dash, or nothing at all.

Use a line space, or partial line space, before and after all vertical lists.