When writing, punctuation marks serve to make the meaning clear and separate parts or ideas, e.g., clauses and sentences. The information below contains the proper usage for punctuations marks.
|Period||Question Mark||Exclamation Point||Quotation Marks|
|Bullets||Slash||Underlining or Italics||Brackets|
Rules of Punctuation
Period – .
|Rule 1:||Use a period at the end of a statement sentence.|
Example: Dogs bark.
|Rule 2:||Use a period at the end of a command sentence.|
Example: Go to school.
|Rule 3:||Use a period at the end of most abbreviations.|
Example: Mrs., Ave. and St.
|Rule 4:||Use a period for decimals and money.|
Example: $10.05 and 2.75
Question Mark – ?
|Rule 1:||Use a question mark at the end of a question sentence.|
Example: What is your name?
|Rule 2:||Use a question mark to express doubt.|
Example: You combed your hair?
Exclamation Point – !
|Rule 1:||Use an exclamation point to show strong emotion with a word.|
|Rule 2:||Use an exclamation point to show strong emotion with a sentence. Example: I love you!|
Quotation Marks – ” ”
|Rule 1:||Use quotation marks to show a direct quote.|
Example: He said, “The water is cold!”
|Rule 2:||Use quotation marks to set off a title of a short poem.|
Example: She read, “O Captain My Captain.”
|Rule 3:||Use quotation marks to imply sarcasm or someone else’s use of a term. Example: My little sister is “in charge” tonight.|
Single Quotation – ‘ ‘
|Rule 1:||Single quotation marks are used inside quotation marks.|
Example: He said, “You think she is ‘nice’ to you?”
Apostrophe – ‘
|Rule 1:||Use an apostrophe to form a possessive.|
Example: Connor’s tennis racket
|Rule 2:||Use an apostrophe to show missing letters when forming a contraction. Example: don’t, can’t & isn’t|
|Rule 3:||Use an apostrophe to form the plurals of a symbol.|
Example: Three A’s and two B’s
Comma – ,
|Rule 1:||Use a comma to separate items in a series.|
Example: One, two, three
|Rule 2:||Use a comma to separate things in a list.|
Example: Milk, eggs, cheese
|Rule 3:||Use a comma to separate parts of a date.|
Example: April 24, 1999
|Rule 4:||Use a comma after the greeting in a friendly letter.|
Example: Dear Bob,
|Rule 5:||Use a comma after the closing of a letter.|
|Rule 6:||Use a comma to separate the city and state in an address.|
Example: Philadelphia, PA
|Rule 7:||Use a comma to separate a name and a degree title.|
Example: Bob Smarts, M.D.
|Rule 8:||Use a comma between inverted names.|
Example: Smith, John refers to John Smith
|Rule 9:||Use a comma in written dialogue between the quotation and the rest of the sentence.|
Example: He said, “Knock it off.” “Ok,” she replied.
|Rule 10:||Use a comma between more than one adjective.|
Example: The little, white mouse
|Rule 11:||Use a comma to denote a descriptive or parenthetical word or phrase. Example: Sue, the teacher, is very nice.|
|Rule 12:||Use a comma between a dependent and independent clause.|
Example: After the baseball game, we got ice cream.
|Rule 13:||Use a comma to separate independent clauses.|
Example: I like her, and she likes me.
|Rule 14:||Use a comma to denote incidental words.|
Example: Of course, I will go with you.
Parentheses – ( )
|Rule 1:||Use parentheses to show supplementary material.|
Example: The table (see below) contains important information.
|Rule 2:||Use parentheses to set off a word or phrase more strongly than with commas. Example: Emma (the singer) was ready.|
|Rule 3:||Use parentheses to provide sequence.|
Example: Directions: (1) Get ingredients. (2) Mix them.
Colon – :
|Rule 1:||Use a colon to introduce a series.|
Example: It has three characteristics: smart, loveable and hairy.
|Rule 2:||Use a colon to show a subtitle.|
Example: The book: How to succeed.
|Rule 3:||Use a colon to separate clauses.|
Example: The game rules are this: keep it clean.
|Rule 4:||Use a colon after a business letter greeting.|
Example: Dear Mr. Black:
|Rule 5:||Use a colon to separate hours and minutes or to show a ratio.|
Example: 12:00 a.m. 4:1 ratio (4 to 1)
Semicolon – ;
|Rule 1:||Use a semicolon to separate sentence parts more strongly than a comma. Example: July was hot; August was scorching.||Rule 2:||Use a semicolon to separate sentence parts that contain commas. Example: She was tired; therefore, she went to bed.|
Hyphen (Dash) –
|Rule 1:||Use a hyphen for compounds words that are adjectives.|
Example: the brick-face brownstone
|Rule 2:||Use a hyphen to show a period of time or space between.|
Example: 1999 – 2010, Philadelphia – New York City
This is commonly referred to as the en dash.
|Rule 3:||Use a hyphen to show the insertion of a word or phrase.|
Example: Denise – a smart student – gave the teacher an apple.
Note: This is commonly referred to as the em dash. This is also called parenthetical material; it can be designated using a hyphen, commas or parentheses at the writer’s choice.
Ellipsis – . . .
|Rule 1:||Use an ellipsis to show that words have been left out.|
Example: The girl … until dark.
|Rule 2:||Use an ellipsis to show a pause for suspense or to heighten mood.|
Example: And the winner is …. Kelly.
|Rule 1:||Use bullets to show the items in a list.|
Example: Things to do tomorrow
Slash, Virgule, Stroke, Diagonal – /
|Rule 1:||Use a slash to show lines of poetry. Example: Twinkle, twinkle, little star/ how I wonder what you are …|
|Rule 2:||Use a slash to set off numbers or symbols.|
Example: /a/ first idea, /b/ second idea
|Rule 3:||Use a slash to indicate phonemes.|
Example: /c/ is the first phoneme in the word, cat.
|Rule 4:||Use a slash to show a fraction.|
Example: ¾ and ½
Underlining or Italics
|Rule 1:||Use underlining or italics for titles of long written works, e.g., book, play, magazine. Example: Dolch’s book Problems in Reading lists 220 sight words.|
|Rule 2:||Use underlining or italics for foreign words which are not regularly used in English. Example: He did pro bono work to help out a friend.|
Brackets (Crotchets) – [ ]
|Rule 1:||Use brackets or crotches to denote additional words inserted into a quotation. Example: “They [children] must get 60 minutes of exercise a day.”|
Source: Fry, E.B., Ph.D. & Kress, J.E., Ed.D. (2006). The Reading Teacher’s Book of Lists 5th Edition. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.