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How to Punctuate Subdivided Vertical Lists (CMOS) January 22, 2012

Filed under: Editing,Writing — sallyhanan @ 7:20 pm
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When you have lists that are subdivided (outlines), you indent each subsequent division.* You can use both numbers and letters. If you have any runover lines, align them with the first word in that sentence. For example:
Employment will be given based on the ability to fulfill the job role of each of the employment opportunities** below:

1. Stercorarius

a. Collect all human waste.
b. Cart it to the edge of town.
c. Sell it to farmers to use as fertilizer.

2. Gymnasiarch

a. Oil and scrape the athletes.
b. Tidy up after wrestling matches.
c. Beat misbehaving youths.

3. Funeral clown

a. Dress up as the person who has just died.
b. Run alongside the corpse with other clowns, cracking jokes.
c. Dance and mimic the dead person.

According to the CMOS, always use the tab bar (on the left of your keyboard) rather than the space bar to make the indentation.

For a much longer list, the punctuation changes, e.g.

I. Yucky food

II. Delicious food

A. Vegetables

    1. Green stuff
    2. Other colored stuff

B. Fruit

    1. Bitter fruit
    2. Sweet fruit

a)      Green and red

(1)    Foreign imports
(2)    Domestic

(a)    Tomatoes
(b)   Apples

i)                    Granny Smith
ii)                   Golden Delicious

b)      Etc. . . .

The top three levels are set off by periods.
Every group is given one additional indent.
Each division and subdivision should contain at least two items.

The great thing about subdivided vertical lists is that you will probably never have to use them . . . unless you are unfortunate enough to have to write school/college papers. If that disaster befalls you this list will be of no help, because this is how you puntuate according to the CMOS, which is not the style for a school paper. Use the APA guide instead, and the MLA guide if you are submitting an electronic file.

**Many thanks to listverse for the strange job descriptions!

 

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How to punctuate (simple) vertical lists April 4, 2010

Filed under: Editing — sallyhanan @ 12:12 pm
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So many lists. So many ways to write them. Fortunately, punctuating them (in line with The Chicago Manual of Style) makes sense.

If you have a list with numbers, put a period after each number and capitalize each word.
1. Pen
2. Ink
3. Paper

When you are just listing things needed, all you need is a colon before the list. Don’t capitalize each line.
Include in your synopsis the following:
an introduction of the hero/heroine
a statement of his goals/motivations
the inciting incident
what stands in his way
the key elements of the story
the black moment
the MC’s epiphany

You can also put the above list in columns.

When you’re explaining the reasons for doing something, you can number and capitalize each point, but don’t end each one with a period if it is not a complete sentence.
Add ground flax seed to your food:
1. To lower your cholesterol
2. To add fiber to your diet
3. To improve digestion of your food

To get your teenager’s attention:
1. Make sure he knows you enjoy his company.
2. Look him in the eyes when he talks.
3. Validate his interest in things.

A vertical list should only be punctuated as a sentence if each item in the list needs to be emphasized.
The college student stated that
1. he was no longer going to follow in his father’s footsteps to manage the company;
2. he was quitting school to live as a homeless man for a year;
3. he had asked his father to give his inheritance, prematurely, to the local foundation for the homeless.

The punctuation would stay the same (in the above) if bullets were used instead of numbers.
                                                                                                                                  

 

 

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How to punctuate run-in/horizontal lists February 24, 2010

Filed under: Editing,Writing — sallyhanan @ 1:11 pm
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Why punctuate lists?
Most of the time lists are personal and don’t need punctuation, but when it comes to writing lists for publication, you need to make sure you have your commas and colons in the right places.

Some general things to remember
All lines in a list should be more or less the same—a list of words/ a list of sentences/ a list of single items, etc.
Short lists don’t need to be written vertically.
Lists don’t need numbers or letters.
                                                                                                                                
If you use letters or numbers to list things horizontally, only begin your list with punctuation if the word before the list is a preposition (on, in, before, if, etc.) or a verb (action word).
Do your homework (a) as soon as possible, (b) with no distractions, and (c) on clean paper.

You’ll get no pocket money if you don’t write: (a) as soon as possible, (b) without distractions, and (c) on clean paper.

If you introduce the list with a clause, it should end with a colon before the list begins.
Here’s what you need to do your homework: (1) a quick start, (2) no distractions, and (3) clean paper.

                                                                                                                                
Each item on a list should be separated by a comma, but if a comma is needed internally in one or more of the items listed, each item should be separated by a semicolon.
You need to begin your homework as soon as you get home; not let anything distract you, like the music; and write on clean paper.

I thought for a while about the women on my husband’s hottie list: that tall redhead; the blonde, the one who holds that airgun between her teeth; and the brunette with the braces; and I decided they have nothing on me because I am loved for who I am, not for what I represent.
                                                                                                     
I much prefer vertical lists, and I love to use bullet points even more—they make lists look cleaner and more professional. There are other punctuation rules for vertical lists, though, and I’ll get to those in another post.

 

 

Every piece of writing needs to be clear and precise. With microscope in hand, Inksnatcher’s writing and editing service will hone any work until it glitters in the light of a 1,000 watt bulb.

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