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Resumes: Periods on incomplete sentences?

jotatejotate Registered User
edited March 2009 in Help / Advice Forum
This is probably a "6 to one, half dozen to the other" question, but I thought I'd ask some more folks than just the one guy who disagrees with my opinion on it. When writing a resume with several bullet points that are incomplete sentences in that they have no subject, is it inappropriate to end them with a period? My friend says simply that they're not sentences, so they don't get periods. But really, they're incomplete sentences with an inferred subject of myself, so I feel like it's fine, and I actually prefer the structure to just leaving them without ending punctuation.

Samples, in case you're confused about the question:
  • Completed monthly balance reports.
  • Facilitated in the acquisition of new clients.
  • Alt-tabbed with ferocity in the presence of superiors.

vs.
  • Completed monthly balance reports
  • Facilitated in the acquisition of new clients
  • Alt-tabbed with ferocity in the presence of superiors

jotate on
Spoiler:

Posts

  • witch_iewitch_ie Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    I agree with your friend that they are not sentences and should not be treated as such. Also, I think when it comes to bullets in general, unless a bullet consists of a long or more than one sentence, periods should not be included. In the case of a resume, periods just don't look right to me. I'm not sure if it's because of the bullets or if it just makes the whole thing look more cluttered.

  • AldoAldo Hippo Hooray the swamp, always the swampRegistered User regular
    edited March 2009
    I wouldn't do periods either.

    /.02€

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    said Aldo hazily, before clop-clop-clopping out of the room
  • RUNN1NGMANRUNN1NGMAN Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    I think having bullet points that start with a capital letter and don't end with a full stop looks a little...unfinished. Especially when they are longer than what you have there, like if you're doing action/impact bullets.

  • ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    If your bullet-point is a sentence, it should have a period. Otherwise, it should not.

  • TopiaTopia Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Like RUNN1NGMAN said, if you are going to capitalize the bullets as if they were a sentence, then also put a full stop at the end.

  • jotatejotate Registered User
    edited March 2009
    Dissent amongst the masses, I dig it.

    Another consideration I'd taken into it was the length of the bullet points. Some of them took fairly complex form, multiple lines and spanning into being every bit a sentence with the exception of the subject "I" at the start.

    My concern stems entirely from whether an HR rep or recruiter would look at a resume out of a stack of 50, looking for something to turn them off very quickly like a typo, see a period at the end of every bullet point and decide that was enough.

    Obviously, the argument could be made that you wouldn't want to work at a place that would do such a thing, but individuals are finicky and if Toby Flenderson has taught us anything, it's that HR people can't be trusted.

    Spoiler:
  • rizriz Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Unfortunately, even if you know the grammatically correct answer, the people in HR filtering through resumes probably have their own opinions, which may or may not be correct. The best advice for grammar grey area situations is to pick the option that you think sounds best and then apply that consistently.

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  • TomantaTomanta Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    riz wrote: »
    The best advice for grammar grey area situations is to pick the option that you think sounds best and then apply that consistently.

    This. I've thought about this exact thing before. I don't like using a period, but think it looks better, so I do. But you need to be sure you do the same thing for every line whichever way you go.

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  • SerpentSerpent Sometimes Vancouver, BC, sometimes Brisbane, QLDRegistered User regular
    edited March 2009
    You will always be correct if you capitalize the first word and put a period at the end.

    Periods are not always required, but they are always correct.

    Capitalization is not always required (maybe), but using it is always correct.

  • HewnHewn Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    In many resume resource guides, incomplete or fragment sentences are common, and end in periods. The point is that you are finishing a thought as quickly as possible, which is the goal of a resume.

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  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Topia wrote: »
    Like RUNN1NGMAN said, if you are going to capitalize the bullets as if they were a sentence, then also put a full stop at the end.

    This. You're capitalizing sentence fragments, so you've already thrown caution to the wind regarding grammar. Might as well throw in a period, since it makes it look better. I've seen more than enough sample resumes that do (and those that don't) to think that you'll be fine either way.

  • DibsDibs Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Don't beat yourself up about not having a subject in the sentence, sometimes it's implied.

    Ex)

    Sit down!

    The subject of the sentence is implied -- 'you' sit down.

  • unilateralunilateral Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Dibs wrote: »
    Don't beat yourself up about not having a subject in the sentence, sometimes it's implied.

    Ex)

    Sit down!

    The subject of the sentence is implied -- 'you' sit down.

    However, thats an imperative sentence, and the OP would be using declarative sentences, which do not usually have an implied subject. Your example works with an implied subject because the pronoun is "you" inferring that the speaker is talking directly to somebody.

    I'm with the people that say don't use periods. It's not a sentence, so it shouldn't have a period, but as evidenced by the rest of this thread, I don't think you're going to find one "correct" answer.

  • Cyd CycloneCyd Cyclone Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Since bullets are meant to replace full explanatory sentences with quick succinct phrases, they should never contain more than one idea, thus never more than one line, preferably short. They follow standard capitalization rules, but not standard punctuation rules, which is to say they don't have punctuation.

    In some rare cases, questions presented as bullets require their question mark, but it is best to view the question marker as integral to the meaning of the sentence, rather than as a point of punctuation.

    I can always go check my copy of the King's English to see what it says, if you like.

  • DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Resumes don't follow the normal punctuation rules. I've seen examples in many resume writing classes which used periods to demonstrably show the end of a thought in sentence fragments.

    "Well, look at this. Appears we got here just in the nick of time. What's that make us?"
    "Big Damn Heroes, Sir."
    "Ain't we just."
  • Cyd CycloneCyd Cyclone Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Darkewolfe wrote: »
    Resumes don't follow the normal punctuation rules. I've seen examples in many resume writing classes which used periods to demonstrably show the end of a thought in sentence fragments.

    Yes resumes don't follow regular punctuation rules, but bullets within resumes still follow standard bullet rules.

  • Jake!Jake! Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Whichever you do (and I'd agree that generally it's acceptable to have a bullets that don't end in a period), make sure you don't have points that end with punctuation in the same list as points with no punctuation.

  • SzechuanosaurusSzechuanosaurus Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited March 2009
    Here's the thing, the only reason periods exist at all is to help make reading a piece of text easier. Sure, there are rules, man, but these rules only exist because they are generally accepted ways of making text easier to read.

    So the answer is simple. If the period makes the bullet points easier to read, include it. If it makes it more difficult to read, don't include it. If it doesn't make any difference to the difficulty of reading it, make a decision based on aesthetics.

  • EggyToastEggyToast Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Whatever you decide to do, be consistent within the document. Don't say "Well this one isn't a sentence and shoudln't get a period, but this one is, so it gets a period." Inconsistency within a document stands out far more than an holistic stylistic decision.

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  • SzechuanosaurusSzechuanosaurus Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited March 2009
    EggyToast wrote: »
    Whatever you decide to do, be consistent within the document. Don't say "Well this one isn't a sentence and shoudln't get a period, but this one is, so it gets a period." Inconsistency within a document stands out far more than an holistic stylistic decision.

    Really, that's consistency within his wording rather than his punctuation though.

    ie, He shouldn't have a list of bullet points where some are complete sentences and some aren't. Mainly because it will read retarded.

  • Cyd CycloneCyd Cyclone Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    EggyToast wrote: »
    Whatever you decide to do, be consistent within the document. Don't say "Well this one isn't a sentence and shoudln't get a period, but this one is, so it gets a period." Inconsistency within a document stands out far more than an holistic stylistic decision.

    Really, that's consistency within his wording rather than his punctuation though.

    ie, He shouldn't have a list of bullet points where some are complete sentences and some aren't. Mainly because it will read retarded.

    Punctuation consistency is of the utmost importance. In the past, I've not hired people base on inconsistencies in punctuation in their resumes. Your resume is a paper version of you that has to do all the talking to a potential employer. Failure properly, and consistently, format any part of it will look bad.

    And once again, bulilets should never contain complete sentences in the first place. It defeats the purpose of bullets.

  • Jake!Jake! Registered User regular
    edited March 2009

    And once again, bulilets should never contain complete sentences in the first place. It defeats the purpose of bullets.

    Depending on what you're trying to convey, bullets are completely appropriate to use on more than a sentence.

  • Cyd CycloneCyd Cyclone Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Jake! wrote: »

    And once again, bulilets should never contain complete sentences in the first place. It defeats the purpose of bullets.

    Depending on what you're trying to convey, bullets are completely appropriate to use on more than a sentence.

    Not in a resume. If you have more than one sentence, the bullet should be split into two bullets. A cover letter's sole purpose is to extrapolate on any appropriate bullets. The resume is there so that an employer can size up a potential employee quickly.

  • Pvt JonesPvt Jones Registered User
    edited March 2009
    I'm the news editor of a local paper in the UK, although I think the grammar knowledge above eclipses mine.

    The most important point is consistency and clarity. So you'll gain more brownie points by keeping the bullets short than you will lose by rubbing the reader up the wrong way in terms of full stops at the end of those sentence fragments.

    If in doubt, use full stops to err on the side of caution. Interpretations of grammar are somewhat pragmatic, and different things look right or wrong to different people irrespective of how traditionally correct they are.

    Personally I prefer the look of short bullets with no full stops. But I'd advise that you stick to using full stops throughout, and work instead on making the words punchy and efficient.

  • Cyd CycloneCyd Cyclone Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Since I had a resume come in today with this problem, here's a rule that never, ever, changes:

    Never use exclamation points in a resume. Ever.

  • Shark_MegaByteShark_MegaByte Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    jotate wrote: »
    • Completed monthly balance reports.
    • Facilitated in the acquisition of new clients.
    • Alt-tabbed with ferocity in the presence of superiors.

    In the context of a resume, these are not really incomplete sentences. Elsewhere, they would be, but one of the rules of resume-writing is that you should never refer to yourself with personal pronouns, because it would be too repetitive and waste space.

    Those sentences are technically complete because they begin with an understood "I." (I) alt-tabbed with ferocity in the presence of superiors. And so on.

    So don't worry about complete/incomplete sentences. That's not the issue. It's really about your preferences for periods/no periods in lists, and consistency is also important.

  • SzechuanosaurusSzechuanosaurus Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited March 2009
    EggyToast wrote: »
    Whatever you decide to do, be consistent within the document. Don't say "Well this one isn't a sentence and shoudln't get a period, but this one is, so it gets a period." Inconsistency within a document stands out far more than an holistic stylistic decision.

    Really, that's consistency within his wording rather than his punctuation though.

    ie, He shouldn't have a list of bullet points where some are complete sentences and some aren't. Mainly because it will read retarded.

    Punctuation consistency is of the utmost importance. In the past, I've not hired people base on inconsistencies in punctuation in their resumes. Your resume is a paper version of you that has to do all the talking to a potential employer. Failure properly, and consistently, format any part of it will look bad.

    And once again, bulilets should never contain complete sentences in the first place. It defeats the purpose of bullets.

    I think you miss-understand me. Consistency in punctuation will follow from consistency in phrasing.

    And exclamation marks...frankly, exclamation marks should never be used in any document anywhere, ever except when it is used to punctuate speech.

  • Cyd CycloneCyd Cyclone Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    EggyToast wrote: »
    Whatever you decide to do, be consistent within the document. Don't say "Well this one isn't a sentence and shoudln't get a period, but this one is, so it gets a period." Inconsistency within a document stands out far more than an holistic stylistic decision.

    Really, that's consistency within his wording rather than his punctuation though.

    ie, He shouldn't have a list of bullet points where some are complete sentences and some aren't. Mainly because it will read retarded.

    Punctuation consistency is of the utmost importance. In the past, I've not hired people base on inconsistencies in punctuation in their resumes. Your resume is a paper version of you that has to do all the talking to a potential employer. Failure properly, and consistently, format any part of it will look bad.

    And once again, bulilets should never contain complete sentences in the first place. It defeats the purpose of bullets.

    I think you miss-understand me. Consistency in punctuation will follow from consistency in phrasing.

    And exclamation marks...frankly, exclamation marks should never be used in any document anywhere, ever except when it is used to punctuate speech.

    I should introduce you to my boss. Perfect punctuation (except for overuse of exclamation marks), but terrible grammar and phrasing. He's got a Physics degree he always uses as an excuse.

  • cuttinggemcuttinggem Registered User
    Hi okay so i was just having the same exact problem so i referenced back to one of my college books esp. for resume and the sorts, so in the book they list responsibilities with bullets capitalized the first word and added periods. The only thing they did not do this when listing something is when they listed awards or certifications and the sort. Hopes this helps :)

  • DeebaserDeebaser Alpha Teemo Registered User regular
    I don't typically see periods used on bullets. It seems weird. I wouldn't use them.

  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited March 2012
    Don't use sentences. It's a resume not a cover letter. Everything is a bullet point, excluding the objective potentially.

    Edit: god damned necropost

    bowen on
  • VanguardVanguard Drive your cart and your plow over the bones of the dead. Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    Good resumes usually don't have complete sentences.

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This discussion has been closed.