How to write a lead-in line for a bulleted list

A vertical, bulleted list marks an excellent way to summarize information and present it in a reader-friendly format. An important element of the bulleted list is the lead-in line.

A lead-in line is phrase, clause or sentence that introduces a vertical, bulleted list. It typically appears after the headline and immediately before the first bullet point. For example, if your bulleted list were about the five types of conflict that are used in fiction, the lead-in line might read Authors can use any of five conflicts in a story:

Follow three simple guidelines whenever using lead-in lines. First, a lead-in line always gives an overview of what the list is about. Secondly, the lead-in need not be a complete sentence; in fact, it usually isn’t. Lastly, always punctuate the lead-in line with a colon, even if it is a complete sentence. An example of these three guidelines would be…

Every story consists of five elements:
• Plot
• Setting
• Character
• Point of view
• Theme

Bulleted lists with lead-in lines often appear in nonfiction books and on blogs. An upcoming entry will examine how to handle the bulleted items in such a list.


My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.