Lists Save Time!

Lists are great timesavers when you’re writing a police report. There are three good reasons for using lists:

  • They’re easier to write than elaborate sentences
  • You’re less likely to make grammatical mistakes
  • You already have a lot of experience with them (shopping lists, to-do lists, and so on)

(By the way, that’s an example of a professional list!)

Did you notice that I’m not writing this whole post as a list? You write your report as usual. But when you come to a string of information (such as a list of stolen items), you switch to a list.

You can see a police report that includes a list by clicking here.

Criminal justice professionals often speak of “bullet lists” and “bullet style.” That’s just another way of talking about a “list.”

Let’s try it. Here’s a paragraph from a police report. Try rewriting it in bullets. Then compare your results with the bullets below.

Janet Lincoln said she came home from work at about 5:20 p.m. She saw that her front door was kicked open. When she went into the living room, she realized that her LQ TV was missing. Also gone were the silver serving pieces in a cabinet in her dining room, cash she kept in a bank in a kitchen cabinet, and a laptop computer that had been on the dining room table.

Here’s the information again written as a list.

Janet Lincoln told me:

  • She came home from work at about 5:20 p.m
  • She saw that her front door was kicked open

The following items were missing:

  • the LQ TV in her living room
  • the silver serving pieces in a cabinet in her dining room
  • a bank and cash from a kitchen cabinet
  • a laptop computer from the dining room table

Easy, isn’t it? How did you do? (You can watch a video about using lists in a report by clicking here.)


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Updated, with a new chapter on Writing Efficiently

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