They're called bullets, but bullet points don't exist to stop people in their tracks. Rather than "drop dead elements" in copywriting, instead they have the opposite effect.
A web copywriter's job is to get the reader to consume all the content on a page and to respond to some call to action.
The easier it is for a reader to make sense of your writing, whether it's a blog post or an email, the more likely they'll respond in the way you want them to.
Powerful bullet points make it easy to keep your reader moving.
By organizing a list into bullet points the writer adds visual clarity to the words. Providing structure buffered with white space, they accelerate eye movement. At the same time, they help the reader scan a piece while absorbing details.
Especially important in web copy, bullet points' purpose is to to help the reader move their eyes down the page. At the same time they force the reader to pay attention to the cumulative effect of similarly grouped ideas.
Like greased lightning, bullet points speed up the reading process. Well written ones quickly perform these tasks:
- Highlight benefits and enumerate the value of each
- Group similar ideas
- Tie together key points scattered throughout the written piece
- Play up reasons for your reader to respond to your call to action
- List the characteristics of a person, place or thing
- Draw attention to components or members of a group
With bullet points the writer is saying, "I'm making this easy for you to pay attention here." Tweet this.
Think of scaffolding. It provides just enough support to allow someone to climb up and work, but it's not a solid structure. You can see through it and see a work in progress behind the bars and lattice.
Bullet points also provide a framework to a sequence of phrases that might otherwise get lost. You can use them to avoid clumping too many ideas into a never-ending paragraph.
For bullets that pack a punch remember these simple guidelines:
- Each one should start with the same part of speech (verb, adjective, adverb).
- They should perform the same function or have the same purpose. For example, in this case it's to clarify bullet point writing "rules."
- Each bullet point in a series should be approximately the same length.
- Each point should contain just one key idea.
- They don't need to be complete sentences. Sentence fragments are okay.
The next time you write a blog post, see if you can incorporate some bullets to make your piece pop. Getting your reader to slide down the page is easier with a batch of punchy bullet points.