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I have been charged with taking over a monthly prayer letter which had been managed by several different staff members. Each had a different way of handling a bulleted list. One used a dash while the other used a comma. One used a period at the end of each statement while the other omitted punctuation. I appreciate feedback as to the proper format for separating the students' names from the prayer requests as illustrated below (comma or dash?) and also if punctuation (periods in this case) are correctly omitted from each request.

Students:

• Iris - asking for prayer for her older sister to make right choices in life

• Velzi - that her family remains united

• Isabel - for healing for her mom who is not feeling well lately

• Jenny - for her family

• Zoila - for her as she gets ready for the new school year

OR

Students:

• Iris, asking for prayer for her older sister to make right choices in life

• Velzi, that her family remains united

• Isabel, for healing for her mom who is not feeling well lately

• Jenny, for her family

• Zoila, for her as she gets ready for the new school year

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    'Proper format' is often a matter of choice. Did your predecessors encounter any problems with their chosen styles? I'd go with a dash here, as I feel the person and prayer request are better separated a little more distinctly by a separator with more clout than a comma (but you may prefer the comma as being less obtrusive!) ... – Edwin Ashworth Aug 10 '14 at 22:36
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    Periods after non-sentences are again optional (see this article), and really add little to short bulleted points (their role is to serve, by showing how words are associated, not to dictate). I'd switch 'for her' to 'for herself' though. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 10 '14 at 22:36
  • Assert your style on the prayer list so that people recognise it is your distinct style. Why worry? – Blessed Geek Aug 11 '14 at 3:00
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I frequently find myself writing lists of this sort, in which each item is what computer programmers call a key-value pair. Unfortunately, there is little standardization for how such lists should be formatted in ordinary writing; the Chicago Manual of Style, which is probably the foremost authority on writing style in the US, is silent on the subject. That's bad news for me as a writer, but it's good news for you, because it means you can pick whichever style you like best.

Both of the styles you suggest above are perfectly fine. If I had to choose one, I would probably go with commas, as I think it flows better; imagine each list item beginning with "Prayers are requested for..." or some such language, and they all become nice sentences. But there are plenty of arguments in favor of dashes too. Choose your favorite one.

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Does there need to necessarily be a separation? What if each bullet were considered a complete sentence, such as:

The following students have made prayer requests:

  • Iris is asking for prayers for her older sister to make right choices in life.
  • Velzi hopes for her family to remain united.

Personally, I find the full sentence more intimate than a separated list, but that may be a bias on my part.

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