In typography, a bullet ( • ) is a typographical symbol or glyph used to introduce items in a list. For example:
It is likely that the name originated from the resemblance of the traditional circular bullet symbol (•) to an actual bullet.
The bullet symbol may take any of a variety of shapes, such as circular, square, diamond, arrow, etc., and typical word processors, such as Microsoft Word and OpenOffice.org Writer offer a wide selection of shapes and colours. Several regular symbols are conventionally used in ASCII-only text or another environments where bullet characters are not available, such as * (asterisk), - (hyphen), . (period), and even o (lowercase O). Of course, when writing by hand, bullets may be drawn in any style.
Bullets are most often used in technical writing, reference works, notes and presentations.
Where are bullets most often used?
Bulleted items – known as "bullet points" – may be short phrases, single sentences, or of paragraph length. Bulleted items are not usually terminated with a full stop if they are not complete sentences, although it is a common practice to terminate every item except the last one with a semicolon, and terminate the last item with a full stop. It is correct to terminate a bullet point with a full stop if the text within that item consists of one 'full' sentence or more.
Computer encoding and keyboard entry
The standard circular bullet symbol (•) is at Unicode code point U+2022. As an HTML entity, it may be entered as •, •, or • Unicode also defines a U+2023 ‣ triangular bullet, a U+25E6 ◦ white bullet, a U+2043 ⁃ hyphen bullet, as well as a U+2219 ∙ bullet operator for use in mathematical notation primarily as a dot product instead of interpunct. However, semantics normally requires that bulleted items be achieved with the appropriate use of the
- ). Such lists may be denoted with leading asterisks in Wikipedia markup as well as in many other wikis. In the Windows-1252 and several other Windows code pages, the standard circular bullet character is at 149 (decimal). To input this Alt code in Windows, press and hold Alt+0149 on the numeric keypad). The bullet symbol is also generated by Alt+7 in GUI applications, but Alt+7 in a Windows text interface (such as a Win32 console application) it generates ␇ (the bell character). Also, it can be confused with bullet symbol in code page 437 and other OEM code pages (see #In historical systems section). On Mac OS X, pressing ⌥ Opt+8 inserts a bullet, and pressing ⇧ Shift+⌥ Opt+9 inserts the similar interpunct (·). GTK+ applications on Linux support the ISO 14755-conformant hex Unicode input system; hold Control and Shift while tapping U, then type 2022 and press Enter to insert a • or hold Control and Shift while tapping U, then type B7 and press ↵ Enter to insert a midpoint. In historical systems Glyphs "•", "◦" and their reversed variants "◘", "◙" became available in text mode since early IBM PCs with MDA–CGA–EGA graphic adapters, because built-in screen fonts contained such forms at code points 7–10. These were not true characters though, because such points belong to C0 control codes range and, therefore, these glyphs required a special way to be placed on the screen; see code page 437 for discussion. Prior to the widespread use of word processors, bullets were often denoted either by a lower-case “o” filed-in with ink or by asterisks (*), and several word processors, such as Microsoft Word, automatically convert asterisks to bullets if used at the start of line. This notation was inherited by wiki engines.