I am wondering if I am writing this ultra list correctly. Is just keeping it as a paragraph, written as such, proper? Should there be semicolons instead of periods? Should there be numbers at the start of each sentence after the colon? http://theoatmeal.com/comics/semicolon says that semicolons can be used in a super list, but they don't have an example like mine.

If you are wondering whether the defendant committed the crime, please consider the following facts: not a single writing that was used in my case was submitted through the proper web-form. There wasn’t any police officer testimony. The police department claimed that the primary evidence was accidentally destroyed. The exonerating video evidence was suppressed at trial. The jury was missing a juror at the day of the trial. There was unfairly limited cross examination.

closed as primarily opinion-based by Drew, user140086, BladorthinTheGrey, Rory Alsop, tchrist Jan 9 '17 at 1:52

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    This is more of a general reference question. I would suggest first looking for a better reference than an online comic. – Katherine Lockwood Jan 8 '17 at 1:57
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    What in the world is an “ultra” list?! That sounds like a marketing gimmick to me. – tchrist Jan 8 '17 at 2:03
  • scribophile.com/academy/correct-semicolon-usage offers a somewhat more similar example. But I worry about not being able to write more complicated sentences within it. The above example in bold is a simplified form of something more complicated that I am writing. But The Oatmeal presents its information in a funny way, but it is entirely correct on its topics. Anyone got any leads on my idea? – LedZepp Jan 8 '17 at 2:11
  • tchrist, we could also call it an abnormally long list. But my main goal is to introduce a long laundry list of points. – LedZepp Jan 8 '17 at 2:13

Semicolons would definitely be more appropriate here than periods; but a bulleted list would be even better IMHO.

However, a bigger issue is that the list's introduction ("If you are wondering whether the defendant committed the crime, please consider the following facts") suggests that the facts will bear on the defendant's guilt — that is, that someone who's not sure whether the defendant is guilty will be better able to make that determination after considering the listed facts — whereas in reality, the list is of irregularities in the trial that muddy the question of the defendant's guilt. If anything, the list seems to be targeted at people who already do believe that the defendant is guilty, but only because they know the jury's verdict (and don't know enough about what led to it). As a result, the whole paragraph is rhetorically quite weak. Instead, I'd suggest something more like this:

My conviction was unjust, for the following reasons:

  • None of the writings in my case were submitted through the proper web-form.
  • No police officers testified.
  • According to the police department, the primary evidence had accidentally been destroyed.
  • At trial, I was not allowed to present exonerating video evidence.
  • One juror was missing on the day of the trial, but was still allowed to vote.
  • Cross examination was unfairly limited.

(Note: I've adjusted some of the wordings for clarity and relevance, and to avoid sounding like you're trying to accuse the police of misconduct. Please double-check that the results are still accurate!)

You might also want to clarify what "the proper web-form" thing is about. What writings are these, and why does it matter how they were submitted? Oh, and it's also worth clarifying whether police officers were prevented from testifying, or what the story is there, so it's clear why it's an issue.

Lastly, I have no legal experience whatsoever, but as a layman I'd also like to see an explicit statement that you're actually innocent (if you are): it's perfectly valid to complain about irregularities at trial, but you probably don't want to look like you're trying to "get off on a technicality" (unless that is indeed what you're trying to do, in which case, whatever).

Have you consulted a lawyer? You might want to.

  • That was a very good answer! I never said the defendant was me though. Thank you for the kind words though. I am looking for a way to write it in regular form. So, do you think there is a way to write it without the bullet list? Would the semicolons work, as you mentioned? Would the periods simply be exchanged for semicolons, or would there need to be alteration to anything else? – LedZepp Jan 8 '17 at 2:25
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    Re: "I never said the defendant was me though": Oh. Then what does "my case" mean? Re: exchanging periods for semicolons: That, plus inserting an "and" before the last item. But that approach is very constraining, because it forces each list-item to be a very brief sentence (or else everything becomes impossible to follow). That prevents you from elaborating on individual list-items (e.g. to explain their relevance). – ruakh Jan 8 '17 at 2:30
  • The "my case" part refers to the homework assignment I am working on. The issue of preventing complexity and elaboration is why I am confused of how to write it. I am trying to write it in regular paragraph form, or something like that. Is the only realistic option the bullet list? – LedZepp Jan 8 '17 at 2:41
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    Would numbers be another solution? The numbers could look like the following: "(1)One juror was missing on the day of the trial, but was still allowed to vote. (2)Cross examination was unfairly limited." – LedZepp Jan 8 '17 at 2:45
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    Oh, I see. Hmm. Does "regular paragraph form" necessarily require that it's a single paragraph? Because another approach would be to organize these issues into structured prose spanning multiple paragraphs. I can't help you with that without understanding these list-items much better than I do, but you can have one paragraph that focuses on pure formal problems with the trial (the web form thing, the missing juror), another paragraph that focuses on evidence that the defendant was prevented from presenting (the video, the destroyed evidence), and so on. [continued] – ruakh Jan 8 '17 at 2:48

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