6 Tips for Writing Compelling Bullet Points

Bullet points are arguably the most versatile tool in a writer’s arsenal. They break up your writing, making it easier to digest. And by drawing more attention to your ideas, they can also inspire action.

Whether you’re writing landing page copy that aims to convert visitors into contacts, or a work report that aims to persuade your team lead to pursue your proposed strategy, crafting compelling bullet points is crucial for making your ideas easier to understand and encouraging your desired action.

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6 Tips for Writing Compelling Bullet Points

1. Keep them brief.

The more unnecessary words your trim from your bullet points, the easier they are to understand. Concise writing is lean. And readers can zip through it with little effort. To sharpen your bullet points, follow the three writing tips below:

  • Avoid linking verb phrases like, “Justin was writing about his cross-country trip.” “Justin wrote about his cross-country trip,” sounds more forceful. Linking verbs have a passive effect, which is why they can’t pack much of a punch.
  • Change prepositional phrases like, “The decision of the executive team was final,” to “The executive team’s decision was final.” Prepositional phrases make sentences longer and harder to follow.
  • Reduce verb phrases like “The results are suggestive to the fact that on-page SEO still works.” to simple verb phrases like “The results suggest that on-page SEO still works.” The latter sounds much smoother.

2. Start your bullet points with a verb.

To hook your audience and persuade them to keep reading, your bullet points’ first word needs to immediately capture their attention. Starting a bullet point with a verb, which reveals the most information about your bullet point, can instantly pull an audience into your writing.

For example, which of the following bullet points immediately grabs your attention?

If we distribute blog content through Facebook Messenger, we can:

  • Leverage a distribution channel with high-engagement rates and rely less on email.

Or

If we distribute blog content through Facebook Messenger:

  • We can leverage a distribution channel with high engagement rates and rely less on email.

Even though there’s only a slight difference between the two bullet points, the one that starts with a verb can engage an audience quicker and prompt them to read the rest of the bullet points.

3. Keep them consistent.

Keeping your bullet points consistent makes it easy for your readers to fall down the page and easily digest its information. To do this, stick to the same number of lines per bullet point, start each bullet point with the same type of speech, like a verb, and maintain the same grammatical form.

For instance, consider the two examples below. One keeps its bullet points consistent and the other one doesn’t.

Pivoting to an organic-only blogging strategy will:

  • Boost our blog’s short-term traffic.
  • Sustain our blog’s long-term traffic.
  • Build our website’s domain authority.

Pivoting to an organic-only blogging strategy will:

  • Boost our blog’s short-term traffic.
  • Sustain our blog’s long-term traffic.
  • Finally, we’ll be able to build our website’s domain authority.

The second example has incongruent bullet points. It throws the reader off and confuses them, increasing the likelihood that they’ll disengage with the writing.

4. Use bullet points in the right place.

Bullet points give your audience a refreshing break from blocks of text, but if you make your copy or report look like a shopping list, they’ll want a break from your bullet points.

To effectively engage and persuade your audience with bullet points, use them in moderation — highlight essential information and list items that would look jumbled if you wrote them in paragraph form.

5. Lead with the benefits.

There’s a copywriting adage that goes “features tell and benefits sell”. And it’s a timeless truism that can be applied to any form of writing. Why? Because a list of features doesn’t specify how your audience will directly benefit from your product or ideas. Highlighting the benefits can help your audience visualize a better future, one that includes your product or fleshed out ideas in their lives.

For instance, a job ad that describes how you can “Arrive and leave work comfortably, thanks to a heated garage,” will resonate with candidates more than a job ad that states the company has a “Heated parking garage.”

6. Sell a feeling.

Psychology tells us that emotions drive our behavior, while logic justifies our actions after the fact. Marketing confirms this theory — humans associate the same personality traits with brands as they do with people. Choosing between two alternatives is like choosing your best friend or significant other. We go with the option that makes us feel something.

This is also the reason why pitching a product’s features is a lousy attempt at persuasion. Features only appeal to the logical part of your brain, which we know doesn’t drive action nearly as well as appealing to the emotional part of your brain does.

So if you’re writing social media copy for the grand opening of your new sporting goods store, don’t write a bullet point about the number of gloves you have in stock. Write a bullet point about the lasting family memories your customers will make playing catch with their kids — they’ll never forget those moments.

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