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Bullet (typography)

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A bullet ( • ) is a typographical symbol or glyph used to introduce items in a list. For example:

  • Item 1
  • Item 2
  • Item 3

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, OpenOffice.org Writer, offer a wide selection of shapes and colours. Several regular symbols are conventionally used in plain text or ASCII-only text, such as * (asterisk), - (hyphen), . (Full stop|period), and even o (lowercase O). Of course, when writing by hand, bullets may be drawn in any style.

Usage

Bullets are most often used in technical writing or reference works. Bulleted items – known as "bullet points" – may be short phrases, single sentences, or of paragraph length.

Computer encoding and keyboard entry

The standard circular bullet symbol (•) is at Unicode code point U+2022. In HTML, it may (when not inserted directly) be entered as &bull; or &#x2022;. However, semantics normally requires that bulleted items be achieved with the appropriate use of the <li> tag inside an unordered list (<ul>). Unicode also defines a triangular bullet unicode (U+2023) and a "white bullet" ◦ (U+25E6), as well as other styles.

In the Windows encoding, the standard circular bullet character is at 149 (decimal). On most Windows systems, it can be entered as the Alt Code Alt+0149 (press and hold Alt while typing 0149 on the numeric keypad). Alt+7 generates a • (midpoint – sometimes called periodcentered – which is often used as a bullet point).

On Mac OS X, pressing Option+8 inserts a bullet, and pressing Shift+Option+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.

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