9.7 Bullet point and numbered lists - 9 Academic and scientific conventions

Academic Writing for International Students of Science - Jane Bottomley 2015

9.7 Bullet point and numbered lists
9 Academic and scientific conventions

Lists with numbers or bullet points are a useful way of organising information. There is some acceptable variation in the formatting of these lists.

Explorative Task

1) What differences do you notice in the formatting of these lists?

2) How are references given?


The desired properties of a sealant are:

✵ a good adhesion with the joint

✵ low rate of hardening

✵ low rate of shrinkage

✵ permanent elasticity.


Much of the output of the construction industry comprises buildings and structures that subsequently consume vast quantities of energy for heating, lighting, maintenance etc. while in service. Over their entire lifespan, structures are responsible for (Toyne, 2007):

✵ 40% of the world’s energy use

✵ 40% of the world’s solid waste generation

✵ 40% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions

✵ 33% of resource use

✵ 12% of water use.


Significant health differences between occupational groups are found in all countries. In part these reflect the direct influences on health of workplace hazards. Depending on their particular work environment, workers may be exposed to:

✵ physical hazards — e.g. heat, noise, radiation, dust, vibration;

✵ mechanical hazards — e.g. unsafe structures, unshielded machinery;

✵ chemical hazards — e.g. pesticides, solvents, gases, acids, metals;

✵ biological hazards — e.g. bacteria, parasites, viruses;

✵ psycho-social hazards — e.g. stress, monotony, workforce bullying, excessively long working hours; and

✵ regulatory hazards — e.g. inadequate safety standards, poor enforcement frameworks.


There are four main techniques for achieving stable masonry:

1) Irregularly shaped and sized but generally laminar pieces are selected and placed by hand in an interlocking mass (e.g. dry stone walls).

2) Medium to large blocks are made or cut very precisely to one or a small range of interlocking sizes and assembled to a basic grid pattern either without mortar or with very thin joints (e.g. ashlar or thin-joint).

3) Small to medium units are made to normal precision in a few sizes and assembled to a basic grid pattern, and inaccuracies are taken up by use of a packing material such as mortar (e.g. normal brickwork).

4) Irregularly shaped and sized pieces are both packed apart and bonded together with adherent mortar (e.g. random rubble walls).

1) The items in the list can be words or phrases which form part of the introductory sentence.

✵ These are introduced with a colon, and do not start with a capital letter (A, B, C).

✵ In this case, each item can be unpunctuated, except for the last one, which ends in a full stop as it is the end of the whole sentence (A, B).

✵ Alternatively, the items before the last can be separated by semi-colons (C).

✵ Using and to join the last two options is optional.

2) Items can sometimes be written as full sentences, each beginning with a capital letter and ending with a full stop (D).

✵ These can be preceded by a colon or a full stop.

3) References which apply to the whole list should be included in the introductory sentence (B).


Rewrite the following as a bullet point list.

Newton — 3 laws of motion — first law: a body continues in its state of rest of uniform motion in a straight line unless acted upon by an external force; second law: the rate of change of momentum of a body is proportional to the applied force and takes place in the direction in which the force acts; third law: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Model Text 13, Appendix 4

Note that the list can also be contained within the main text, e.g.

The elephants were observed in the following defined situations: (1) indoors, (2) outdoors, and (3) return to indoors.

Note the use of the colon, commas and and.