Gathered by Paz H Diaz, Ph.D.
Punctuation marks can make or break a sentence, and an entire story. They tell us when to stop , pause or ask questions. They guide us in reading a text out loud, and in making our message come across better.
Thus, it is vital to have a good grasp of punctuation marks and their uses.
Here’s a list and how they are applied in sentences.
COMMA, SEMICOLON, AND COLON
a. Use a comma after each item in a series of three or more.
Many studies indicate favorable results in function, decreased pain and range of motion.
Many studies indicate favorable results in function, decreased pain, and range of
b. Use a comma when you join independent clauses with one of the seven coordinating conjunctions (and, or, nor, but, so, yet , for).
Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
c. Use a semicolon when you join independent clauses without a coordinating conjunction.
Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely. d. Do not use a comma to separate subject and verb.
His enthusiasm for the subject and his desire to be of help, led him to volunteer.
His enthusiasm for the subject and his desire to be of help led him to volunteer. e. Use a colon to introduce a list or a long or formal quotation after a complete sentence.
Otherwise make the quotation part of the grammar of your sentence.
Strunk (1995) asserts that: “Too many programmes are already underfinanced” (p.
Strunk (1995) asserts: “Too many programmes are already underfinanced” (p. 87).
Strunk’s assertion (1995) that “Too many programmes are already underfinanced”
(p. 87) is based on questionable assumptions.
Insert a comma wherever there would be a slight pause between words or phrases in the spoken sentence.
Insert a semicolon between two parts of a sentence; the proviso is that both parts must be able to stand alone as separate sentences.
Use a colon to introduce an explanation or an example of something: here is an
example. If there are several simple explanations or examples, separate them with commas; otherwise, use semicolons.
Avoid excessive use of parentheses ( ). Use them to make an aside (an extra remark) only if commas could be confusing. Never use parentheses within parentheses: find another way of saying it.
Use brackets [ ] for material inserted into a quotation and ellipsis (three dots) for material omitted: According to Smith (1999), “few such [descriptive] studies were done… before
Use dashes–two hyphens with no spaces anywhere–for emphatic asides.
Use one or two spaces after a period, colon, or semicolon. Note, though, that Web browsers delete more than one space unless you make them non-breaking spaces.
Use double quotation marks (“) for speech and verbatim quotations.
If a quotation is long, type it as an indented block of text without quotation marks, as shown in this example:
According to Smith (1982)…
The “newbie effect” disappeared when behaviors were studied in this manner. Examples of methods included indirect observation, self-reports, and retrospective questionnaires. (p. 276)
Use double quotation marks the first time you introduce a newly coined or slang term; do not use quotation marks thereafter.
Don’t use “smart quotes” (66 and 99), because they create problems when translated into Web documents.
Use single quotation marks (‘) for quotes within quotes.
Use the apostrophe (‘) to denote possession: an athlete’s responses, two athletes’ responses. But note that its = of it, whereas it’s = it is.
Put commas, semicolons, colons, and periods outside closing quotation marks: “this”, for example, but not “this,” or “this.” Exception: “If the quotation ends in a complete sentence, the period is part of the quote and should therefore go inside the quotation marks, like this.” [APA: all punctuation goes within the quotation marks.]
Use of and/or instead of or is acceptable when you want to emphasize either or both.
The forward slash (/) can be used instead of or in sentences that are already replete with ands and/or ors.
Web site, but not in a website);
o names of tests (the Stroop Color-Word Test);
o nouns followed by numbers (on Day 2, in Group B) but not in the control group;
o names of institutional departments (Department of Sport Science, University of
Wherever), but not of disciplines (a department of sport science);
o references to sections of the article (in the Methods section; see Results; in
Figure 1; in Table 2; see Appendix 3; in Chapter 4).
Use your spelling checker to decide whether to include a hyphen with a prefix. If the word is not recognized without a hyphen, put one in. Examples: non-athlete, ultra- marathon, pre-treatment. [APA: use a hyphen only with self-.]
Here is the paradigm example of hyphenation of adjectives or nouns: a clear-cut case. (If you wrote a clear cut case, you would imply a cut case that was clear. The emphasis in pronunciation also provides a clue.) More examples: role-playing technique, two-way analysis of variance, high-anxiety group. Hyphenation is not necessary if the first word is an adverb or comparative adjective (according to APA, anyway): widely used text, randomly assigned subjects, higher anxiety group.
Note also: t-test results, but results of t tests; student-centered teaching, but the teaching was student centered.
Note also: long- and short-term memory; 2-, 5-, and 10-min trials.