Vertical Lists, Bullets
Q. I’m an editor for a training department. In our instructional material we often have long lists of objectives. Using Chicago’s standard for vertical lists (CMOS 6.130) makes them a little hard to read. Do you have an alternate suggestion? The instructional designers feel that it takes away from the meaning of the objectives when we reword the lead-in to be a complete sentence. For example, they don’t like “At the completion of this module you will complete the following.” They don’t like it because instructionally you’re not always “completing” something. Other ideas?
A. The instructional designers are reasonable to object to a sentence that sounds redundant and doesn’t accurately reflect what follows, whether it’s complete or not. Your job is to write the sentence so it works for them (as elegant and accurate) and for you (as a complete sentence). Ask them to supply the wording that satisfies them most by giving them a template with a blank or some multiple choices, such as “The following are (objectives? tasks? goals?) for this module:” or “Here are some topics you’ll explore:” and see if that makes them happy.