Using Bullet Points In Academic Paper Writing
There are so many variations in academic writing that, in order to effectively format your paper, you must complete a few things first and foremost.
- The first and most important step is to verify what style of formatting you are required to follow. Your class and/or assignment overview should have specific formatting style requirements listed. If it isn’t included in the information given, inquire with your instructor or supervisor to determine the best way to plan your paper.
- The second is to then do a quick refresher about the style chosen to assess whether or not the format you had in mind will work within its requirements. Each format style has its own individual requirements when it comes to lists, citations, and the inclusion of different kinds of information.
Bullet Points and Format Style
Bullet points within an academic paper are one of those things that aren’t allowed in every style. The most common style to utilize bullet points regularly is APA, or American Psychological Association style. Most commonly, this style is used for papers and source citations in the social sciences.
Decide if Bullets are Appropriate
Once you’ve ensured that bullet points are allowed in the formatting style you are required to use, the next step is to determine the best way to highlight your information.
Would the information be better highlighted if it were in numbered list format? If the information presented must be displayed in a certain order, a numbered list might be a better option. If, however, the order in which it is presented isn’t a factor, then a bullet list would work best.
If you list is short, you might consider using another format to share the information – such as listing it out or including it in a small paragraph. With many bits of information, the bullet list does remain a good option.
Confirm the Bullet Formatting Requirements
Most often, bullets should be indented by at least an inch from the left margin. Also, most lists included in academic papers must be double spaced and properly referenced.
As you include the bulleted information in your academic paper, make sure that they are all consistent. Tense, consistent format and length, and consistent punctuation are all important.
Once you’ve created your list of bullets, it is important to make sure you use a strong topic sentence that relates to the information you are sharing.
Ask for Help
If you are new to using bullets in an academic setting, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Instructors and supervisors are there to assist you as you prepare to share important research information.