Style Manual: Punctuation By Ana Ramirez



End Marks










Punctuating Titles

End Marks

What are end marks? End marks are a form of punctuation placed at the end of a sentence. They show that a sentence has ended or has come to a full stop.

Types of End Marks:

Periods are usually used to end a declarative sentence, one that simply states something.

  • Ellipses are three periods in a row and are used to omit words from quotes as well as representing a pause or thoughts trailing off.
  • When using periods with quotation marks or parentheses, it always goes inside the quotation marks or parentheses.

Exclamation Marks are used to end a exclamatory sentence, one exclaiming something.

Question Marks are used to end an interrogative sentence, one asking a question.

End marks are usually used to set the tone of the sentence, especially when read out loud.


Commas are used to show a brief pause, rather than a full stop like end marks. They are also used to make to further clarify, or sometimes just clarify, the meaning of a sentence.


When you list of 3 or more items, you place an comma after each item.

To make some homemade ant killer, you need Borax, vinegar, and water.

Please note that the comma before the and is optional.


An appositive gives extra or additional information about a noun or subject. It gives further information about the noun or subject.

Commas are placed around appositives; however, when an appositive gives necessary information to help clearly identify the subject, you don't use commas.

John Smith, a long time friend of mine, went missing without a trace last weekend.

A long time friend of mine has commas around it because John Smith is enough information to clearly identify who is being spoken about.

My long time friend John Smith went missing without a trace last weekend.

In the example here, commas aren't used because John Smith is necessary to help identify the subject my long time friend. A person can have many long time friends, so it's necessary to have the John Smith to know which long time friend is being spoken about.

Direct Address

A direct address is when the speaker is directly talking to the reader or a specific person.

Use a comma to separate the direct address from the rest of the sentence.

Pablo, would you like to eat?

Would you like to eat, Pablo?

Whereas if you don't add the comma, it changes the meaning of the sentence.

Would you like to eat Pablo?

Introductory Phrases

If a sentence begins with a dependent clause or phrase, you separate it from the rest of the sentence with a comma.

Last night on the way to the store, I spotted several moth flying around a lamp post.

Commas Con't

Nonessential and Essential Clauses

An essential clause contains information necessary for the sentence to have. Without it the sentence wouldn't make much sense.

You don't use commas with essential clauses.

The man who had just left came to get his umbrella.

Who had just left is essential to knowing which man we're talking about, so we don't put commas around it.

nonessential clause contains information that's not necessary for the sentence to have. Without it the sentence would still make sense. It just provides addition information.

You use commas with essential clauses.

John Smith, who had just left, came back to get his umbrella.

Here, who had just left is just extra information because it's not being used to help identify who John Smith is. John Smith is enough to identify who were talking about.

Parenthetical Expressions

A parenthetical expression is a phrase or clause that's placed within a sentence. It's like a interruption. With parenthetical expressions, you put commas around them.

Beetles, for instance, are bugs I don't mind being around.

Coordinating Conjunctions

As mention in before, coordinating conjunctions are for, and, but, nor, or, yet, so (FANBOYS) and are often used to connect two independent clauses together.

When using coordinating conjunctions, use put a comma before it; however, you only use the comma when the coordinating conjunction is being used to connect two independent clauses.

I like bees, but I just don't like them near me.

Parallel Adjectives

You put commas between adjectives that coordinate with each other or are similar to one another. Usually you can tell by placing and between them or reversing their order. If it still sounds right, then they're coordinating.

It was a long, tedious walk to the store due all the pollen.

Adverbial Conjunction

An adverbial conjunction is when two independent clause are connected together by an adverb. You place a comma after the adverb and a semicolon before.

The spider can't stay in my room; however, it can live outside on the patio.


With quotation, commas are used to introduce or interrupt direct quotes.

She said, "Oh, look a butterfly."

"Oh", she said, "Look, it's a butterfly."

Commas are also used after a quote.

"Look, the butterfly's now on my hand," she said.

If the quote is the subject or object of a sentence, it doesn't need a comma.

"I don't care" was all that Steve said about the butterfly landing on her hand.


Semicolons are used to connect two independent clause together.

Spring brings pollen; All the pollen leads to seasonal allergies.

In adverbial conjunctions, semicolons are used to connect two independent clause together and goes before the adverb.

I run away whenever I see a bee; however, I don't particularly hate bees.

You also use semicolons separate when one or more units in a series contains commas. If there's commas being used with the items, then you use semicolons instead of commas to list the items out.

For summer vacation, I planned to go to Toronto, Canada; Rochester, New York; Augusta, Maine; and Manchester, New Hampshire.


Colons are used to introduce a list of items.

When you go to the store, pleases buy: eggs, milk, and sugar.

Colons are also used for time.


Quotation marks

You use quotation mark when you are directly quoting someone, whether it's dialogue or a reference of some kind. So, if it's not a direct quote, you don't use quotation marks.

"Why does that butterfly have a knife?" Nancy asked.

You can also use to quotation marks the same way air quotes are used in a more stylistic sense. Also, you can use quotation marks for words being used with an unusual expression or meaning, or that varies from the standard usage.

What is this "fun" you speak of?


Apostrophes are to show possession or contract certain phrases.

To show possesion, you add an 's to the end of the owner's name.

Be careful; there's a bee hovering around Tim's soda can.

Apostrophes are also used to shorten certain phrases.


  • Would not => Wouldn't
  • Do not => Don't
  • Cannot => Can't
  • I will => I'll


Hyphens are used to connect compound words and phrases.

Hyphens are also used to divide words when the break off at the end of a line.

When this happens the general rules are:

  • The hyphen goes on the end of first line
  • Divide the word between syllables or prefixes/suffixes
  • Don't divide proper nouns
  • If the word is a hyphenated word, divide at the hyphen
  • Don't divide the word if it breaks onto the next page.

Hyphens are also sometimes used to separate prefixes from words.

Reenter => Re-enter

There's not really a general consensus on when to exactly to do this; however, there are a few guidelines which can be found in the link below.

Hyphen are not interchangeable with dashes. Hyphens are shorter than dashes and have different jobs.


Dashes are used to indicate an added emphasis, an interruption, or an abrupt change in thought. Again, Dashes and hyphens are not interchangeable.

John Smith—my most trusted friend—was the only one who believed me about the knife-wielding butterfly.

I knew what I had saw—They didn't believe me.

Wait, There really is—oh, I'd wish you'd believe me.

Dashes are sometimes more effective to use that commas, semicolons, parentheses, or ellipses.


A nonessential detail, basically, contains information that's not necessary for the sentence to have. It just provides addition information. (It's like a side comment.) You place parentheses around nonessential details.

Nancy (who we're all convinced has gone crazy) keeps saying stuff about a butterfly with a knife.

Parentheses are also used with numbered list.

The reason for which I have gathered you all here are: (1) to get a general consensus on the situation, (2) to use that information to come up with a plan, and (3) to actually stop the knife-wielding butterfly.

Another use for parentheses are for references. In MLA format after you quote something, you put the name of the author of the source and the year the text was published or written.

"It was the best of times..." (Dickens, 1859)


You capitalize the first letter of the first word of a sentence and of a direct quote.

This is an example sentence.

"Hey, look out for that butterfly," He said, "It's got a knife."

You also use capitalization at the beginnings of names and titles, basically any proper nouns.

  • John Smith
  • The Library of Congress
  • Etc.


For punctuating titles of work, it mainly depends on what style you're trying to follow (MLA, APA, Chicago). But, here are a few general rules:

  • Italicize titles of books, magazines, newspapers, movies, plays, and CDs
  • Italicizing and underlining are interchangeable
  • Use quotation marks for shorter works, such as, book chapters, articles, poems, and songs

The link leads to a chart of when to use quotation marks or italics/underlining based on MLA and Chicago Style.


Created with images by Sharon Mollerus - "Beatle" • prasongsom - "ants red ant climb the tree" • bogdanchr - "nature insect butterfly" • Kapa65 - "crocus flower blossom" • bogdanchr - "nature insect butterfly" • Photos by Lina - "butterfly" • ghwtog - "butterfly macro insect" • davidshort - "Bee" • bogdanchr - "nature insect butterfly" • Mark Turnauckas - "Bee Wear" • arewethereyet? - "Butterfly" • Thomas's Pics - "bee" • bogitw - "silver-bordered fritillary butterfly nature" • FzFoto - "Bee" • SHAWSHANK61 - "butterfly white black" • GLady - "cocoon butterfly insect" • drelliott0net - "bee" • magee - "butterfly wings insect" • Moosealope - "Bee" • Bulldog Pottery - Bruce Gholson and Samantha Henne - "Butterfly" • BillDamon - "Bee on the back deck - 2014-04-14"

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