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capitalization: lists

The decision to capitalize the first letters of items in lists depends on grammar and syntax. It is more important for lists to be logically understandable and syntactically consistent than to look alike

Items in lists are sometimes capitalized. This list illustrates one possible set of conditions:

  • It is made up of complete sentences, which do not depend on a lead-in sentence fragment and which end with a period.
  • It contains points that are more easily grasped separately than together.

However, if the lead-in to a list is a sentence fragment related grammatically to the points that follow, as in this list,

  • do not capitalize the first words of the listed items, and
  • except for the bullets or dashes, punctuate as if the entire sentence were not in point form.

Incomplete sentences or single words entered as points in lists are normally lower-cased, as in the example below:

Four issues are related to the economics of healthy housing:

  • affordability
  • adaptability
  • viability for the construction industry
  • marketability

Note that there is no period at the end of the list.