Website Writing Guide

Punctuation

Lists - bullets, sentences, hyperlinks

The punctuation of lists is probably the most talked about and hotly debated aspect of punctuation on Web pages. The rules here are simple and consistent with the principle of using minimum punctuation to reduce eye-clutter on the page.

On this page:

Punctuating a list of phrases

Punctuating a list of sentences

Punctuating a list of hyperlinks

Punctuating step-by-step instructions

 

Punctuating a list of phrases or words

Use a colon to introduce the list and no punctuation until a full stop at the end of the last item on the list.

The first word of each item in the list should be in lower case unless it is proper noun.

Example

Google lists Web pages in its results pages according to how close a match there is between the query term and:

  • the page title – the words that appear in the very top-left of the browser window
  • the page heading
  • the number of repetitions of the query term on the page.

 

Do not end each item in list with a semi-colon or the penultimate item with ; and

This form of punctuation is popular with lawyers and may have been appropriate when reproduced on the printed page where the resolution is high. However, the semi-colon characters do not transfer so well on a monitor where the writer cannot be sure of the user's screen resolution or eye-sight. The font size, colour and weight, and the background colour may all contribute to making fine punctuation characters difficult to read. Accessibility rules suggest a clean, uncluttered page.

top of page

Punctuating a list of sentences

Where each of the dot points is a sentence, begin each sentence with a capital and end with a full stop. Allow a full space between each sentence.

Example

Below are the essential punctuation tips to improve the readability of text on Web pages:

  • Use a minimum of commas.
  • Hyphenate compound verbs and adjectives.
  • Avoid using semi-colons.
  • Do not use apostrophes and shortened forms where they are not needed.

 

Punctuating a list of hyperlinks

After the colon do not use any punctuation, including after the last item on the list.

Example

The following topics are covered on this page:

top of page

Punctuating step-by-step instructions

If the heading of the step-by-step instruction is a complete sentence, end each one with a full stop.

Example

Steps to apply for taxi driver accreditation:

Step 1: Undertake a national police record check.

Content, content, content....

Step 2: Undertake a driving assessment.

Content, content, content....

Step 3: Complete the application form.

Content, content, content....

Step 4: Undertake a medical examination.

Content, content, content....

Step 5: Lodge the application form and pay the fee.

Content, content, content....

 

If the heading of the step-by-step instruction is NOT a complete sentence, do not end it with any punctuation.

Example

Steps to apply for taxi driver accreditation:

Step 1: National police record check

Content, content, content....

Step 2: Driving assessment

Content, content, content....

Step 3: Application form and information

Content, content, content....

Step 4: Medical examination

Content, content, content....

Step 5: Lodging the application

Content, content, content....

All applications are to be lodged in person at the Department of Transport.

top of page

Other topics in this section

Home Guide | Basic punctuation rules | Lists - bullets, numbers, hyperlinks | Capitals |
Hyphens
| Abbreviations | Web page addresses | Italics | Quotations | Numbers |
Dates and times
| Citing references |

top of page