In a dot-point list, does each item start with a capital letter and end with a full stop?

No and no. In Australia, the widespread convention is that each item in a dot-point list starts with a lower-case letter; you can think of each point as ‘finishing’ the sentence that introduces the list. You only need to finish a point with a full stop if the point contains more than one sentence, otherwise you don’t need any punctuation at the end of a point at all. The Australian Style Manual even says that the final point in a dot-point list doesn’t require a full stop but that’s a stop too far (or perhaps not far enough for me); I prefer a full stop at the end of the last item. It seems both logical and appropriate to me.

In summary, the key points to remember about a dot-point list are these:

  • each point begins with a lower-case letter, unless there is no lead-in (in which case, treat each point as if starts a sentence, and thus use a capital letter)
  • there is no need for punctuation at the end of a point (unless the point contains more than one sentence)
  • you do not even need a full stop at the end of the last point but some people (like me) think it is better to have one there.

Unless each dot point starts a new ‘sentence’ – as pictured here – start each point with lower-case letter, as the point completes the lead-in sentence.

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