Writing Style – Listing Job Responsibilities

BizWritingTip reader: “How do you punctuate a list of things, such as your job responsibilities? Also, does the tense of the verb have to be the same in each line? How do you show something that you have done in the past, but you do not do on a regular basis?”

BizWritingTip response: First, there is no need to put any punctuation at the end of each point if you have written them as sentence fragments. The first letter of each point can be capitalized, or all can be in lower case letters – your choice.

Normally, all verbs in a list should be in the same tense. With your current job, the present tense is correct, and with previous jobs the past tense is used. As you noted, sometimes there are activities that relate to your present job, but they have been completed and will probably not recur. In this case, break the consistency rule and use a past tense verb.

However, I recommend you group the activities so that everything you do on a regular basis is together and everything relating to a finished activity follows. This way, you will not create a “disconnect” in your reader’s mind.

Examples (not recommended)

Maintain and update database

Researched information for the new company brochure

Assist with processing invoices

Co-ordinated last two company relocations

Examples (recommended

Maintain and update database

Assist with processing invoices

Co-ordinated last two company relocations

Researched information for the new company brochure

It is always good to know the rules and when to follow them.

Note: The Oxford Canadian Dictionary accepts “coordinated” and “co-ordinated.” The Canadian Press Caps and Spelling book accepts only “co-ordinated.” Generally, Canadian style is to place a hyphen between two identical vowels, such as in “co-operated,” “co-opted,” and “co-op.”

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