Anyone who's been through Airman Leadership School knows that bullet statement format is the format required for entries in the AF Form 910. But in case you've forgotten just what bullet statement format is and how to write the most effective bullets, we'll go over it again. The bullet statement format is a way to describe an achievement in as few words as possible yet fully explain the accomplishment.
It's a direct manner of listing accomplishments which specifically avoids generalities, unsubstantiated claims, and flowery embellishments. This format is neccessary for two reasons. First, space on the AF Form 910 is limited so we have to make an effort to communicate the most information is as few words as possible. Second, writing in this manner helps cut out the unneccessary words and makes the statements factual and to the point. This ultimately makes EPRs more readable and more honest descriptions of a person's performance.
AFI 36-2406 states:
3.12.4. Use bullet format as specified in Table 3.1. and Table 3.2. Bullets are limited to three lines per bullet. Main bullets begin at the left margin (refer to “The Bullet Background Paper” in The Tongue and Quill if unfamiliar with the proper bullet format).
3.12.5. Do not underline, capitalize, or use bold print, unusual fonts, multiple exclamation marks, or headings to emphasize comments, except as required to identify proper names, publication titles, etc. NOTE: Headings are allowed on LOEs.
3.12.6. Avoid nicknames, code names, and acronyms. If such terms must be used to describe a particular project, exercise, etc., provide an explanation, including a description of the part the member played in the exercise or project. Acronyms or abbreviations common throughout the Air Force, such as CGO, NCO, CONUS, TDY, etc., are not required to be spelled out first.
Note that MPFM 07-44 changed the maximum bullet length to 2 lines.
But all the above still doesn't clearly answer the question of exactly what is bullet statement format. According to the source quoted above, the Tounge and Quill, "all bullet statements must be accurate, brief and specific".
It states that there are two types of bullet statement formats:
Single Idea Bullets
- Definition: A concise written statement of a single idea or concept. This format is used in the Job Description section.
- Definition: A concise written statement of a person’s single accomplishment and its impact on the unit mission, organization, etc. This is the format for the Performance Assessment blocks.
- -Must clearly state a single accomplishment
- -Must have an impact
- -Impact can be implied (Specific Achievement) or expressly stated
- -Strive to relate impact to the unit mission, organization, etc.
- -Make impact clear to those not familiar with career field, unique terminology, jargon, etc.
- -Expressly stated impact should strengthen bullet statement
- -Expressly stated impact should put accomplishment into perspective
- -Accomplishment element must always precede impact element
Types of Accomplishment-Impact Bullets
- -Action Verb: Accomplishment begins with strong, descriptive action verb (Repaired, Rescued, Engineered)
- -Modified Verb: Accomplishment begins with modifier (typically adverb) (Expertly repaired, Immediately rescued)
- -Specific Achievement: Impact is implied, not expressly stated (Processed over 10,000 widgets)
When completing the Key Duties, Tasks, and Responsibilities block, use single idea bullet statements that fully describe the ratee's duties:
- Tracks and ensures the efficient use of limited communications resources on behalf of AMC
- Reviews and combines applications for maintenance contract assistance and recommends solutions
- Aligns electrical, hydraulic, and gaussian test and measurement equip in support of special ops mission
- Supervises three Airmen in the maintenance and support of C-141 fleet power generation equipment
The bullet statements in the Key Duties, Tasks, and Responsibilties block should begin with the action that is being described. Start the bullet statement with a present-tense verb whenever possible (Repairs, Manages, Aligns, etc.).   In most cases, the ratee is not responsible for writing their own job description. The workcenter typically has several approved versions of the workcenter's job description and the NCOIC usually prefers that you use the version appropriate for your position and duty. Most Airmen leave the Job Description section blank and let their supervisor fill it in.
When completing the Performance Assessment blocks and the Additional Rater's Comments block, use the Accomplishment-Impact type bullet format. In these blocks, the bullet statements should have two parts:
Part 1. Describes the accomplishment.
Part 2. Describes the accomplishment's positive effect or impact.
Swept over 10,000 square feet of runway--reduced foreign object damage by 50%
Note that bullet statements are limited to two lines. But even though we're allowed two lines to elaborate on each accomplishment, to give the best impression, the EPR should consist mostly of one-line bullet statements -like this:
- Responded to urgent request to reserve conference room for critical 5/6 meeting--rescued failing organization
- Delivered over 100 tons of transatlantic mail--set new record for delivery time
- Volunteered to serve as proctor for key awards ceremoney; demonstrated rare, vital leadership
The reason for this abbreviated style of writing is that, in the past, a lot of people had problems remembering or even identifying their accomplishments over the previous reporting period. When it was time to fill out their EPR, typically they could only come up with three or four accomplishments and would have to try and stretch them out to fill the required space. They would add a lot of extra words and unnecessary adjectives to describe their grandiose accomplishments --just to stretch their words out to fill the required lines. The end result was a lot of hot air and doubletalk that didn't say much. The requirement for bullet statement format prevents that kind of writing.
Although the goal is a single-line bullet statement, sometimes it's difficult to adequately describe a complex and important accomplishment in a single line. In that case, use two lines. But don't use too many two-line bullets or it may give the EPR reader the impression that you don't have many real accomplishments and that you're trying to stretch your words out to fill space. The format below is commonly used for two-line bullet statements (although variations are acceptable).
- Supervised long overdue and complicated preventive maintenance inspection on critical terminal equipment
-- Trained seven techs on alignments, prevented future maint delays, ensured continuous support to OEF mission
It consists of the main bullet (on the first line) and a sub-bullet (on the second line). The double dash before the sub-bullet on the second line indicates that it supports the line above. In order to make your bullet statements readable, you must somehow signal the beginning of the impact portion of the bullet. With single-line bullet statements, the start of the postive result or impact is marked with a semi-colon or double-dash. With two-line bullet statements, the double-dash is used if the impact segment is started on a new line. If the impact segment starts in the middle of a line, either first or second, then either the semi-colon or double-dash may be used.
The single-line bullet and the two-line bullet format can be mixed as required. Liberties may be taken with the two-line bullet format. The bullet can consist of two or three or more sentence fragments and the accomplishment can exceed one line and run into the second line like this :
- Provided expert assistance to Army Depot maintenance team; replaced azimuth motor electric brake assembly; facilitated troubleshooting and repair of autotrack failure; restored comm 50% ahead of prediction, reduced TDY by 50%
Bullet statements don’t have to and usually don't follow strict grammatical rules. For example, substituting commas or semicolons for "and" and omitting articles such as "a" or "the" will help you shoehorn an accomplishment into a single line.
A bullet statement like "Revitalized unit PT program, volunteered, led morning exercise; increased annual pass rate" is perfectly acceptable.
Bullet statements describing accomplishments for the Performance Assessment Section should begin with the action that is being described. Start the bullet statement with a past-tense verb whenever possible (Repaired, Managed, Aligned, etc.)
- Recruited over 30 participants to...
- Identified, isolated loss of radar to fault in...
- Repaired broken hose assembly and...
Don't start a bullet statement with unneccessary adjectives or adverbs as in "Quickly and efficiently registered..." or "Expertly and consistently identified...". The Air Force frowns on unnecessary adjectives. And this kind of thing suggests that the accomplishment isn't significant if you have to resort to this kind of word inflation. But, if being quick and efficient is somehow relevant and needs to be emphasized, then go ahead and word it as you think best.
Be as specific as possible. Review every word and evaluate whether it's too broad or vague. If another word can narrow the meaning, use it instead. Don’t leave room for doubt. Examples: “participated in” could mean anything from “signed in” to “directly responsible for key aspect of the operation.” Another example is “active Base NCO club member” which could mean anything from showing up for happy hour to planning and organizing special events. Be specific. If you're not specific, the EPR reader will assume that the ratee didn't have a real accomplishment and is trying to coast on someone else's work by claiming participation.