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The bullet symbol may take any of a variety of shapes, such as circular, square, diamond or arrow. Typical word processor software offers a wide selection of shapes and colors. Several regular symbols, such as * (asterisk), - (hyphen), . (period), and even o (lowercase O), are conventionally used in ASCII-only text or other environments where bullet characters are not available. Historically, the index symbol ☞ (representing a hand with a pointing index finger) was popular for similar uses.
Lists made with bullets are called bulleted lists. The HTML element name for a bulleted list is "unordered list", because the list items are not arranged in numerical order (as they would be in a numbered list). Usually bullet points are used to list things.
Bullets are most often used in technical writing, reference works, notes, and presentations.
Where are bullets most often used?
- Technical writing
- Reference works
An alternative method is to use a numbered list:
- Technical writing
- Reference works
Items—known as “bullet points”—may be short phrases, single sentences, or of paragraph length. Bulleted items are not usually terminated with a full stop unless they are complete sentences. In some cases, however, the style guide for a given publication may call for every item except the last one in each bulleted list to be terminated with a semicolon, and the last item with a full stop. It is correct to terminate any bullet point with a full stop if the text within that item consists of one full sentence or more. Bullet points are usually used to highlight list elements.
There have been different ways to encode bullet points in computer systems.
In historical systems
Glyphs "•", "◦" and their reversed variants "◘", "◙" became available in text mode since early IBM PCs with MDA–CGA–EGA graphic adapters, because built-in screen fonts contained such forms at code points 7–10. These were not true characters because such points belong to the C0 control codes range; therefore, these glyphs required a special way to be placed on the screen (see code page 437 for discussion).
Prior to the widespread use of word processors, bullets were often denoted either by a lowercase o filled in with ink or by asterisks (*); several word processors automatically convert asterisks to bullets if used at the start of line. This notation was inherited by Setext and wiki engines.
There are a variety of Unicode bullet characters, including:
- U+2022 • BULLET (HTML
- U+2023 ‣ TRIANGULAR BULLET (HTML
- U+25E6 ◦ WHITE BULLET (HTML
- U+2043 ⁃ HYPHEN BULLET (HTML
- U+204C ⁌ BLACK LEFTWARDS BULLET (HTML
- U+204D ⁍ BLACK RIGHTWARDS BULLET (HTML
- U+2219 ∙ BULLET OPERATOR (HTML
∙) for use in mathematical notation primarily as a dot product instead of interpunct.
In web pages
Other forms of use
The bullet is often used for separating menu items, usually in the footer menu. It is common, for example, to see it in latest website designs and in many WordPress themes. It is also used by text editors, like Microsoft Word, to create lists. In HTML, a bullet appears before the text in a "
<li>" tag when placed in a "
<ul>" tag, or when configured by CSS.
- Wikibooks. "LaTeX - List Structures". Retrieved 23 February 2018.
- "Meatball Wiki: WikiMarkupStandard". meatballwiki.org. 2012. Retrieved 25 February 2012.
- MediaWiki. "Help:Formatting". Retrieved 23 February 2018.
- "Mathematical symbols list (+, -, x, /, =, <, >, ...)". rapidtables.com. Home > Math > Math symbols.
- Clair, Kate (1999). A Typographic Workbook: A Primer to History, Techniques, and Artistry. Wiley, 1999. ISBN 978-0-471-29237-1. Retrieved 12 November 2008. Digitized 2007-12-20 by University of Michigan Libraries.
- Media related to Bullets (typography) at Wikimedia Commons