- Decide whether the list should be bulleted, numbered, or lettered. If the order of the items does not matter, use bullets. If the order matters, use numbers. If you are going to need to refer back to items on the list by name, consider using letters. Then you can refer to item A, item B, and so on.
- Decide whether to capitalize the first word of each item. This is an arbitrary decision. If you are using a specific style guide, consult it for this decision. For example, the Chicago Manual of Style indicates that in numbered lists, the first word after each number should be capitalized, unless the list is being written in sentence form rather than in vertical list form. Bulleted lists also have each entry capitalized, according to Chicago. But for lists of short items with no bullets or numbers, use lowercase.
- Decide whether to use punctuation after each item in the list. You can omit all punctuation, or you can puctuate the list as one giant sentence. If you use the sentence method, you use a comma at the end of each item unless any of the items contain commas. If any item does contain one or more commas, you use a semicolon at the end of each item. Using and before the last item is optional.
- Make sure the wording of the list items is parallel. If you have a list of adjectives, all of the items must be adjectives. You can have a list of nouns, a list of gerunds (-ing verbs), a list of infinitives (in the form to x, where x is a verb), or a list of predicates. You just cannot mix them.
- Like this list itself, you can make a list of paragraphs. Here, each item has multiple sentences. That means each item has to be capitalized, and each item has to end with a period.
Challenge: Fix this list
To fix up the yard for spring, we need to do the following:
- to get rid of dead stalks from last year's growth
- Restack the stones for the edging
- We also need to plant more grass seed.