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General Business 360 Communication Guide

Parallel Structures

Parallel lists aid reader comprehension. Parallelism means that each item in a list follows the same grammatical pattern.

Instead of this

Write this

This book was exciting, well written, and held my interest.

This book was exciting, well written, and interesting.

The decline in company profit is due to four factors:

  • Holiday sales have slowed down
  • Increased transportation and fuel costs
  • We are experiencing higher employee wages
  • Slowing inventory turnover

The decline in company profit is due to four factors:

  • decreased holiday sales
  • increased transportation and fuel costs
  • increased employee wages
  • reduced inventory turnover


Additional Examples of Parallel Lists

Sets of instructions often begin with action verbs:

Pre-Exam PPE Checklist

  1. Wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds
  2. Put on a new isolation gown and disposable hair cover
  3. Place your N95 respirator over your nose and mouth
  4. Perform a fit check on your respirator
  5. Put on sanitized goggles
  6. Pull on rubber gloves

Lists of people, places, or things would all involve nouns:


In-Stock Vehicle Types

  • Coupe
  • Convertible
  • Crossover
  • Hatchback
  • Minivan
  • Sedan
  • Truck

More specific lists might use a modifier and a noun:


Makeup Styles

  • Airbrush makeup
  • Celebrity makeup
  • Dewy makeup
  • Editorial makeup
  • Matte makeup
  • Nude makeup
  • Permanent makeup


Note: When the order of list items matters, use numbers.

Content Credit

Content on this page was created by the Business Communication team at the Wisconsin School of Business.