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I frequently noticed that sentences in a bullet-point list do not start with articles like 'a' or 'the'. For example, today I saw the usage below:

  • Professor is coming around 3:00 PM.

Rather than below:

  • The professor is coming around 3:00 PM.

Is there any rule to omit articles in front of the sentences in bullet-pointed lists?

  • Can you please link your observation? – Lucian Sava Jun 8 '17 at 7:32
  • I'm afraid I can't cause I saw it on the screen while taking an exam. :( – Gwangmu Lee Jun 8 '17 at 7:38
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    Assuming "professor" isn't a proper noun, either keep both the and is, or drop both. That is, use either a full sentence or a 'headline-ese' sentence, but don't mix them. Some links about articles and nouns: here and there. – Lawrence Jun 8 '17 at 8:18
  • @Lawrence I heard about 'headlinese' for the first time from you. I searched for 'headlinese' on the internet and read some articles, but I'm not sure whether the sentence like 'Professor coming around 3:00 PM' ('be' verb omitted) is a right headlinese sentence, or 'Professor comes around 3:00 PM' using just plain present tense is better. – Gwangmu Lee Jun 8 '17 at 13:11
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    @GwangmuLee Either is fine. As a rule of thumb, use full sentences if the presentation is to be published on its own (e.g. e-books); use headlinese if you are giving a speech and the points are displayed only as accompanying material. – Lawrence Jun 8 '17 at 22:57
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This is almost certainly a matter of "house style" and not strictly of grammar. My own personal style has two forms where the list items contain more than a very simple term. One is where the list is preceded by a sentence fragment and is constructed such that each item, when appended to the sentence fragment comprises a grammatically correct sentence. For example:

Dogs are:

  • commonly kept as household pets
  • often referred to as being the "best friends" of man
  • a pain in the neck when they're puppies and are prone to peeing on the floor

The other type of list is where each item stands on its own as a syntactically correct sentence. For example:

Dogs have various characteristics:

  • They are commonly kept as household pets
  • They are often referred to as being the "best friends" of man
  • They can be a pain in the neck when they're puppies and are prone to peeing on the floor

(Note: in neither do I end items with a period, but again that's a stylistic thing rather than a grammatical/syntactical one.)

The biggest frustration I find is where people mix up those and other forms. Consistency is probably the most important thing here.

One other comment, about your particular example. In fact, both could fit into my second style if everyone concerned knows who the professor is, is on familiar terms with him/her, and in fact refers to him as "Professor" -- i.e. in the way kids might refer to their father as "Daddy". For example:

Here's a snippet of the schedule for an upper class English kid whose father has been summoned to a meeting about said kid's bad behaviour:

First, the kid's version:

  • Teacher expects me in her office by 2:55pm
  • Father is coming around 3:00 PM

And the teacher's version:

  • Student arrives in my office by 2:55pm
  • The father is coming around 3:00pm

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