Ellipsis

Ellipsis Use ellipsis to indicate something is omitted from a direct quotation or to suggests and so on. . ., i.e., something the reader already knows that doesn’t need to be repeated. What is an ellipsis? An ellipsis is a punctuation mark that consists of three dots with a space before, after, and between them. Writers use this mark to represent a word, phrase, sentence (or more) that is omitted from a direct quotation. How should ellipses be used? When words are omitted from within two nearby sentences, insert the...

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Parentheses

Use parentheses to define words, acronyms, and add clarifications or cite sources Using Parentheses Parentheses (also called brackets in British English) are a punctuation mark used to contain text that is not part of the main sentence, but that is too important to either leave out entirely or to put in a footnote or an endnote. Since there are many reasons to use parentheses, be sure that the function of parentheses is always made clear to your readers. Reasons to Use Parentheses 1. To include extra information The first function...

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Dashes

Use dashes to set off an idea or an appositive within a sentence What is a dash? A dash is a punctuation mark used to set off an idea within a sentence and may be used alone or in pairs. Dashes interrupt a thought in a more dramatic way than a phrase enclosed in commas, but less theatrically than parentheses. To form a dash, type two hyphens—without a space before, after, or between them—and your word processor will convert them to a dash. How should dashes be used? To provide...

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Hyphens

Use hyphens to join compound words and avoid awkward or confusing word combinations How should hyphens be used? To join some compound words into one word when the word reflects a single conceptThe well-known doctor gained additional recognition when the results of her top-notch research were published.Hyphens are used only when the compound word precedes the noun it modifies--not when it follows it. For instance: The well-known actor was not as well known as she assumed. Mother-in-law, five-year-old, better-than-usualWith a small group of prefixes and suffixesex-wife, post-World War II, pre-2000, treasurer-electIn...

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Quotation Marks

Use punctuation marks to set off exact or spoken language What are quotation marks? One of the primary jobs of quotation marks is to set off exact spoken or written language. When writers use quotation marks correctly, they give credit to the original author and avoid plagiarism. Quotation marks are also used to enclose titles of short works and always appear in pairs. When and how should quotation marks be used? Quotation marks should be used to enclose the following: Direct quotations from textual, audio, and video sourcesDickens informed his...

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Apostrophes

Use apostrophes to show possession, indicate plural letters, and form contractions What is an apostrophe?An apostrophe is a punctuation mark used to show possession, to indicate the plural form of letters of the alphabet, and to form a contraction. Of all forms of punctuation, the apostrophe appears to be in greatest peril of extinction. For proof that the apostrophe should be placed on an endangered species list in some grammarian's office, one needs only to consult the popular press or a sample of student themes. However, because of its ability...

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Colons

Colons Use punctuation marks to separate significant parts of a sentence Colons @ Writing Commons Defines and explains proper colon usage  What is a colon?A colon is a punctuation mark used to separate significant parts of a sentence, particularly when the first part offers a sense of anticipation for the second. This form of punctuation is also used in other conventional applications as noted below. How should colons be used? Use a colon to separate a complete sentence from a list (of three items or more) that follows.The students brought...

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Semicolons

Semicolons Use punctuation marks to separate closely-related independent clauses Purpose Semicolons @ Writing Commons provides definition and explanation of semicolon usage What is a semicolon? A semicolon is a punctuation mark used to separate closely-related independent clauses. Stronger than a comma, a semicolon does not require the use of a coordinating conjunction. The semicolon offers a "higher" form of punctuation than the comma or dash. Unlike commas or dashes, the semicolon can correctly be used to separate sentences. If readers tend to pause for a half-second when they come to...

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Commas

Commas Use the correct punctuation marks to clarify meaning Commas @ Writing Commons Explains six major uses of commasIllustrates situations that do not require commas  What are commas? Commas are like pawns in chess: They seem relatively insignificant and unobtrusive, yet they are actually very important. If properly placed, the lowly pawn can checkmate the king or, once it has reached the end of the board, become a more powerful piece. Commas play an extremely important role in ensuring that your documents are understandable. In fact, failing to insert a...

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End Punctuation

Rules for periods, question marks, exclamation points End punctuation appears at the end of a complete sentence (independent clause) or follows an interjection. The appropriate placement of a period, question mark, or exclamation point separates one statement from another and signals a pause in the word flow. Correct use of end punctuation contributes to the order and readability of the text. The punctuation at the end of a sentence is often determined by the purpose of the sentence.  What is a period? A period [.] is used at the end...

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