Talk:Bullet (typography)

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History of the bullet[edit]

This seems like a pretty new invention; would somebody research it and write up the history of symbol? Thanks. David McCabe 03:45, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

It would also help to know how to type the bullet.

I'd love some guidance around capitalization within bullets.


Here is the history of the bullet point, as it has been told to me. It is possible that it dates further back than the mid 1960's, but I've not found anything on it.

The history of the bullet point

In the mid 1960’s, in budding Silicon Valley, there was a perhaps under-valued child psychologist named Regina Ball. While widely recognized within the Cupertino Unified School District as a leader in her field, what went un-recognized was her significant contribution to what would later boom into every day use with the mass adoption of personal computers. Unimpressed with the standard report writing techniques, Ms. Ball took a great leap of faith, risking her professional reputation and possibly social standing by insisting upon the use of a series of solid black dots as an alternative to standard outlining methods in the main text of her reports. Met with great resistance by her secretary, who insisted the black dots should not be used because they looked unprofessional and detracted from the report, Ms. Ball had to resort to uncharacteristic demands to achieve her goals. Ms. Ball continued to use the bullet point, even in the face of ridicule.

Years later, the series of black dots became a staple of everyday writing, no longer confined to Microsoft Word and Power Point. A Google search of the term “bullet point”, results in numerous websites offering instruction on improving the use of the bullet point. However, a search for the history of the bullet point results in a mere request by David McCabe, on March 5, 2007, for a “history of the symbol”. His request can now be met because of Ms. Ball’s emergence as the inventor of the bullet point.

Ms. Ball, now Lady Smith, resides in Oxford, England with her husband, Sir Brian.

ArviLu, 2:47, 24 August 2008 ArviLu (talk) 21:48, 24 August 2008 (UTC)

I dispute the assertion that Ms Ball invented the bullet point. Bullet points or non-specific cues have been available to designers and printers for centuries. They are often seen in the work of Modernist designers of the 1920s and 1930s and the glyphs used have been in printers typefaces since at least the 19th century. The earliest example I have seen was a German book from 1896; I am certain there are earlier uses. The punctus was used in Roman times in a similar way.

Their increased use in the 20th century is not due to technological advance but because of a change in the a) the type and formality of language we use and b) the frequency and volume of publications. Bullets allow writers to produce content more quickly and with less thought for composition; they also allow readers a quicker way to scan content and retrieve the relevant points of a piece of writing, which would take longer with continuous prose. There is a parallel with the use of bold type in the 19th century: bold was required as the volume of information meant readers needed to find information quickly such as on train timetables and the like.

The increase in self-publishing and small business publishing (reports, leaflets, correspondence, etc) from the 1930s onwards, is likely to be the catalyst behind the growth in the use of bullet points. The wider use of typewriters, then electronic typewriters and then personal computers only increased the need for this kind of device.

The bullet point is unusual in terms of punctuation in that it is often used in multiple contexts with the same shape. It is the user who needs to understand their use: for example bullet points can be used to indicate the start of an item and also the end. The bullet point is most common as a circle or square but many symbols can be used. This has lead to an interesting development in that the design of the bullet point adds context to the item it relates to. An example of this is commonly seen on packaging: bullet point 'ticks' used to show positive messages in a list or 'crosses' used to show negative aspects. I have seen pictures of gun bullets used in a list about effects of gun crime. The image or bullet shape reinforcing the content which is a unique feature amongst typographic symbols. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Davemccourt (talkcontribs) 13:29, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

This article has numerous problems...[edit]

...including, but not limited to:

Not differing between the bullet character and characters used in a similar role (notably in lists) appropriately.

Not treating the bullet character and bullet lists sufficiently separately.

Being Windows centric.

Containing undue instructions (WP is not an instruction manual).

Generally, being poorly written.

I suggest a complete re-write.

Is it acceptable to have a bullet-ted list with only one item? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:15, 11 December 2012 (UTC) (talk) 18:58, 14 November 2009 (UTC)

Berger dot?[edit]

I've also heard people refer to bullets as "berger dots" (or maybe it's spelled "burger dot"), but can't find any reliable sources for this. Can anyone corroborate this? Thanks! GoingBatty (talk) 20:56, 17 July 2013 (UTC)