Use Bullet Points and Sub-Paragraphs in Your Academic Essay

Once upon a time, bullet points and sub-paragraphs were not allowed in academic writing assignments. It was felt by the writing experts and educators, that those devices were too informal to be used in formal essays. But studies were conducted that determined that readers process what they are reading in short chunks and their eyes are drawn to bullet points. So for today’s writers, it is important and imperative that they use bullet points and sub-paragraphs in academic essays for better delivery and better comprehension (for the reader).

The researched materials will be easier to format for the writer and the paper will be easier to process for the reader when applying bullet points and sub-paragraphs. Using bullet points and sub-paragraphs just makes sense for both parties. Make sure you know when it is acceptable to use them and when you should not implement them in your writing.

Use Bullet Points Wisely and Appropriately

Exhibit some control when using bullet points in your academic essays; you do not want your paper to look as if it has a bad case of the measles. Some appropriate ways to use bullet points in your paper might be:

  • With listings
  • With examples
  • To shorten a description
  • To provide support
  • In a step-by-step procedure
  • For ingredients or components
  • Definitions

Monitor how often you use them, as well. Make sure that you have no more than ¼ of your academic paper written in bullet point form.

There are also times when you should not use bullet points in your academic essay. Some of these instances might be:

  • For your thesis statement
  • In the introductory paragraph
  • In the conclusion
  • In a story or a example needing detailed information
  • In your hook or attention-getter
  • For quotes


If a topic is lengthy and requires much explanation or many details, the sub-paragraph would be an appropriate tool for delivery. An example may be a listing of scientific compounds and then an explanation or a definition for each scientific compound. Another example might be a genre listing and then a definition of each genre in literature. Using sub-paragraphs is good for delivering large amounts of data and details in various subject essays.

Times have changed, and writing practices and accepted procedures have changed too. Use bullet points and sub-paragraphs in your academic writing for better delivery and easier reading and comprehension.