Chill Out on the Bullet Points

Don't take it from me, take it from Edward Tufte

Don’t use bullet points to convey your message. Use bullet points to enhance your message. Let’s look at some terrible examples.

 

Gross.
Gross.

 

Yuck.
Yuck.

 

Does any read these?
Does any read these?

 

How about some examples of an effective use of bullet points? I actually had a hard time finding some decent examples. Edward Tufte tells us that in web design unordered, ordered or numbered lists “[…] should be distributed over space as much as possible information resolution of the display: the greater the spatial resolution, the lesser the temporal stacking. And the less temporal stacking, the better.” Basically don’t give users a huge list simply because it will be less usful to peruse.

In slideshows (and seemingly more often, ads) beautifully digestable prose has been replaced with difficult run-on sentance-ridden bullet points. It has gotten so bad that someone went to Stackexchange to seek advice.

Here’s an effective use of the bullet point taken from Tufte’s website:

 

Look at that beautiful bullet point usage!
Look at that beautiful bullet point usage!

 

See how the meat of the content is made of paragraphs? What a concept! Your sixth grade English teacher would be so proud.

So, the next time you want to make a bullet point ad, slide, or pricing table — think twice next time and take a more creative approach!

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