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Where do I put the question mark when I want to ask about a list of items? For example:

Should we mention other books by Charles Dickens, such as:

  • A Tale of Two Cities: a novel describing the chaos of the French Revolution from the perspective of a handful of people from England and France.
  • A Christmas Carol: a novella following Ebenezer Scrooge as he is haunted by spirits that teach him what his avarice is doing to those around him.

In particular, the question mark doesn't seem to have a home because:

  • The text at the beginning can't be punctuated by a question mark, since it wouldn't form a complete sentence. A workaround might be to go ahead and ask the question, followed by "Examples include:" .
  • The list items are sentences of their own, rather completing the beginning of the question in alternative ways.

Although the points above offer ways to avoid this construction, one or both might not work for a given scenario (e.g. if the bullet points consist of several sentences each, not just one).

Is it possible to keep the construction above and put the question mark somewhere, or do I have no choice but to reword in some situations?

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Can you be a little more specific? I think an example would help clarify the question. –  jackgill Jun 24 '11 at 23:52
    
@jackgill: My original post was an example. I updated the question with a better example, followed by an explanation. –  Joey Adams Jun 25 '11 at 3:42
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2 Answers

up vote 1 down vote accepted

I reckon you mean something like this:

  • Are you really sure it is true?
  • If not, what are you going to do?

Example:

Is it:

  • Thing one?
  • Thing two?

Edited:

In this case, the problem is simplified by the " Dickens, such as:". The comma clarifies where the question ends, and where the criteria begins. So, I would write:

Should we mention other books by Charles Dickens? such as:

A Tale of Two Cities: a novel describing the chaos of the French Revolution from the perspective of a handful of people from England and France.
A Christmas Carol: a novella following Ebenezer Scrooge as he is haunted by spirits that teach him what his avarice is doing to those around him.

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I think this method just happens to look okay with very short bullet point texts. But OP's example (which may have changed since you answered) would look pretty odd with a question mark terminating each bulleted alternative. –  FumbleFingers Jun 25 '11 at 3:58
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I would reword the sentence in the following manner to avoid the problem.

Should we mention other books by Charles Dickens? Possibilities include:

  • Book 1
  • Book 2

Just a suggestion, though. There might be nicer ways to handle it.

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