You might be wondering about punctuation with bullet points on a resume. Some people overthink formatting for resumes because it could make or break their job opportunities. This article will look at whether you need periods after bullet points on a resume.
Do You Put Periods After Bullet Points on a Resume?
You do not need to include periods after bullet points on a resume when listing simple items or phrases (i.e. under “Skills”). You should only include periods or other punctuation when you include full sentences after bullet points. This is not recommended in resumes.
Different style guides will tell you the same thing when punctuating bullet points. As an example, both the AP Stylebook and The Chicago Manual of Style suggest punctuating bullet-pointed lists when using full sentences.
For example, you would not include periods after the following:
Time-keepingManagementExcellent communication skillsC#
Here, you are listing skills and only using a few words to demonstrate what you have in your skill set. You should not punctuate this bullet-pointed list because it does not use full sentences.
The only time you would punctuate the list is when using full sentences like this:
- I took two years off university to volunteer to help the underprivileged in wartorn countries.
This time, you are listing something that is a full sentence. This allows you to stick to the AP and Chicago Style rules. Punctuation is included to show that it’s a complete sentence.
However, resumes don’t often call for complete sentences like this. It’s best to stick to shorter ones.
When to Put Periods After Bullet Points on a Resume
When listing full sentences with bullet points, you should put periods after bullet points. There is no other time where punctuation is needed after bullet-pointed lists in your resume.
All common English style guides agree on this matter. You only need to punctuate bullet points when the sentence itself should be punctuated. For example, you should include a comma after an introductory clause and a period at the end of the sentence.
However, this is not smart in a resume.
In resumes, you need to get as much information as possible. This often means you need to cut out personal pronouns (like “I” or “me”). It also means you can use bullet points to showcase what you can do in as few words as you need.
So, you might find yourself punctuating bullet points like this:
- I trained for three years as a veterinary nurse before shifting my focus to the financial sector.
However, you should keep it concise in a resume, like this:
- Trained for 3 years as veterinary nurs but shifted focus to financial sector
This bullet point is much simpler to skim over. A potential employer can get all the information they need out of it at a short glance.
Also, notice how the period is removed in the second example. This shows that it’s unnecessary to use punctuation when shortening your sentences for a resume.
When to Exclude Periods After Bullet Points on a Resume
It’s almost always best to exclude periods after bullet points on a resume. You want to get the information across as quickly and efficiently as possible. This usually means removing punctuation because it takes away from the simplicity of the bullet points.
Most of the time, you’ll write lists like this in a resume:
Managed the firm for 15 yearsLearned a lot in my time at the officeTrained as an engineer at UCL
As you can see, none of these bullet points has periods at the end. In fact, no punctuation is used because there is no reason to include it. The bullet points include simple phrases to share information about you.
Periods After Bullet Points When Listing Skills on a Resume?
Skills in a resume are commonplace. If you don’t include your skills, you’ll almost certainly miss the cut when it comes to being hired.
You do not need to include periods after skills on a resume. Most skills are listed as one or two words (i.e. “problem-solving” or “punctual”). Since you are only listing a handful of words after a bullet point, it makes little sense to punctuate the list.
You should not write your skills like this:
Cleaning.Cooking.Caring for children.
The periods take away from the flow and simplicity of the list.
Instead, you should keep the bullet points unpunctuated. Here’s how that looks:
Time-keepingJava (3 years)French, native level
Notice how none of the skills has periods after them. Other punctuation is included to help get information across (like parentheses and commas). However, you do not need to include periods at the end.
Periods After Sub Bullets on a Resume?
Sub-bullets work very similarly to bullet points. They are bullet points within bullet points, but the same rules apply to them.
You should not include periods after sub-bullets because they will only include one or two words to continue a list from a previous bullet point.
There will never come a time when a sub-bullet requires a full sentence. Therefore, you do not need to worry about any punctuation coming in a sub-bullet format.
If you find yourself writing sentences in sub-bullets, it’s probably because you’ve used sub-bullets incorrectly.
Here’s how you might come across sub-bullets in your resume:
Fluent in three foreign languageso German o French o Spanish
Should I Use Bullet Points on My Resume?
There is no reason to avoid bullet points on your resume. Bullet points are appropriate on formal resumes because they help to convey information about you quickly to a potential employer.
Bullet points are simple and efficient ways of conveying a lot of information in a list format. This is great for a resume because it shows an employer what you can do and whether you’re worth hiring.
You should not worry about punctuating bullet points unless you are writing full sentences with bullet points. It’s very unlikely to come across full sentences as bullet points in resumes because it’s best to keep resumes short and sweet. Avoid periods and stick to simpler lists.
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.