2

When displaying bullet points in text or in a slide, is there an optimal number of bullet points?

I remember some marketer telling me odd numbers 3 or 5 are better digested but can't find any information regarding/supporting this. Are 2 or 4 points just as valid as 3 and 5?

3 and 5 points do look better for me, anecdotally.

  • I can't speak to research on the number of bullet points, but here's an article from the Neilsen Norman Group that's perhaps more valuable in terms of general use. – Mike M Jun 30 '17 at 22:28
  • At least 2 - nothing is worse than 1-bullet bulleted lists! – J. Dimeo Jul 1 '17 at 1:24
2

The appropriate number of bullet points is the number it takes to communicate your information in a succinct and clear manner. Creating superfluous bullet points or jamming disparate thoughts together into a single point to fill out an even/odd requirement is never a good idea.

When creating a list of bullet points, keep a few things in mind that matter more than the number of bullets:

  • Great bullet points are brief and intriguing.
  • Put your important points first.
  • Format matters. Keep it the same for each point!
  • With bullets, fewer is better.
  • Keep your line length relatively the same.
  • Use your bullet points as tiny headlines.

Not a bad list, eh? Consider what a similar, non-user-friendly bulleted list could look like:

  • Keep the format same for each bullet point.
  • If you don't keep your line length relatively close to each other, it begins to become difficult to understand where one bulleted point starts and another begins. The longer, the harder it is to parse out the different points. Additionally, bullet points begin to lose their impact the longer they go on, so why not keep them short and simple?
  • If you use your bullets to tell a whole story, you might want to consier why you're using bullets in the first place. This is a hard lesson to learn: that often, using some sort of header formatting might be more useful, especially if you have a really long story to tell. Not only will the definiton between each item be more clear, but you'll gain back some of the deadspace to the left of your list.
  • I can't believe some people put in useless bullet points.
  • Neither can I.
  • 1
    Interestingly I read the first, half of the second and then the last bullet point in your "bad" list. Very nice illustration. – Sandy Chapman Jul 21 '17 at 21:26
-1

I have worked with many presentations inefficiently at first and then efficiently after getting expertise and experience.

Let me tell you some facts:

  1. The case with our users is they don't read, they scan and according to Jacob Nielsen, on an average people read 25-28% of the texts of a 2-3 pages article.
  2. There are articles where the writer is talking about the optimum number. Some says 5, some says 7 and some says 7+-2(in general) but my experience with presentation says that you should keep you bullet points short and between 3 to 7. It all depends on context but sometime we have only 3 big points to mention but better way is to break them into 5 as its easier for the users to scan that way.

So try to keep your bullet points between 3 to 7 and do keep it short and crisp. If your users will lose interest on the first point then their are high chances that whole page will be skipped.

  • Can you link to any of the articles you reference? I'd like to give them a read over, but I'm having a hard time finding them. – denveruxer Aug 1 '17 at 17:19

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.