Bullets are Your Best Friend

via ivanwalsh.com

via ivanwalsh.com

I didn’t mean it like that. The title of this post isn’t what you probably thought it meant.

I’ve begun to use bullets in my writing much more often than I thought was acceptable while I was in college. I just never thought that I would need to be using bullets for almost every story. It works and it works well.

When I first started at the Chronicle, I was told to use them more often, but I never took it seriously. I would find ways to avoid them and it would just complicate my life. I found that, on deadline, it’s just easier to spell things out, rather then going through a long process of explaining each thing.

Over time, I realized that bullets were my best friend. I can both list and explain things simply and quickly. Bullets are also great for readers who don’t have to dive into too much text. They can see the bullets and read through, as if I had meant to do it so easily all along.

My boss has told me to use them for all kinds of stories. Yes, we list things a lot in journalism, but bullets can help with chronological events and much, much more. I wouldn’t be able to list them all here.

As you read more articles, you’ll begin to notice the bullets, if you haven’t already. They are a staple in journalism and I wish that I had begun to utilize them properly, much, much sooner.

In college, I wasn’t told to use them, so I figured they were “bad” for reporting. Maybe I wasn’t paying attention in class. I don’t know. Deadline writing has gotten a helluva lot easier thanks to bullets.

If you don’t use them now, or haven’t even thought about using them, spend the next week trying to incorporate them into a story or two. If you like it, great. If you don’t, that’s fine, as well. And please don’t get frustrated if you can’t find the right story to use them. It may not happen right away, so have patience.

Good luck.

Jonathan

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