Table of contents
For further guidance on punctuation, consult a grammar and usage book.
Use ampersands (&) only in charts, tables, or lists of companies, where the ampersand is part of the company's official name. Use and in text.
Use brackets for parentheses within parentheses and for editorial interpolations or word substitutions in quotations.
Use brackets to enclose editorial explanation.
Use brackets to set off phonetic transcripts of words.
If a colon introduces a complete sentence, more than one sentence, a formal statement, quotation, or speech in a dialogue, capitalize the first word of the sentence. If the colon introduces a sentence fragment, do not cap the first letter.
A colon commonly is used to introduce a series or list. The terms as follows or the following require a colon if followed directly by the illustrating or enumerated items or if the introducing clause is incomplete without those items:
The colon is used when a sentence is intended to come almost to a dead stop:
However, when a sentence is not intended to be interrupted, a colon should NOT be inserted between a verb or preposition and its object:
A colon is used between the place of publication and the publisher's name in bibliographical references:
Use a comma to separate parts of a compound sentence, placing the comma before the conjunction. Sentences with two verbs or verb clauses joined by and do not usually include a comma before the and. Use commas to set off a nonrestrictive or dependent clause (usually introduced by which). Do not use a comma with a restrictive clause (usually introduced by that, and usually the type of clause needed-which is often overused and incorrectly used).
Month, day, year:
Month and year only, no comma:
Use a comma before and after Inc. in text.
Jr., Sr., III
The latest edition of the Chicago Manual recommends that Jr., Sr., II, III, IV, etc., not be set off by commas unless the sentence structure dictates that a comma be used after.
Use a comma after the next-to-last item in a series.
State names in text
Use a comma before and after a state name when it's used with a town or city name in text.
Street addresses in text
Use a comma at the end of a street address in text, if more copy follows.
Ellipsis points ( ... )
Avoid the use of ellipsis points if at all possible. They make the sentence harder to read and understand. Ellipsis points are appropriately used to indicate the omission of material from within a quotation, not as a way to "trail off" or pause. When ellipsis points are used within a sentence, use three. When ellipsis points are used between sentences, use four, the first or last of which serves as the period for the first sentence, depending upon where the omitted material occurs. Always use spaces between and around ellipsis points. See the Chicago Manual for more detailed rules on the use of ellipsis points.
(Also see the "To Hyphenate or Not to Hyphenate" section.)
A general rule is that hyphens link items and dashes separate items.
A hyphen joins words to form compound adjectives or is used to attach certain prefixes or suffixes to words.
The dash that is usually typed as two hyphens (--) is typeset as an em dash (-). It indicates a break in thought and can be used within a sentence to insert a parenthetical phrase. Neither a double hyphen nor an em dash should have spaces on either side.
The en dash (-) is used between ranges of numbers or dates, or between adjectival phrases containing two-word concepts (1984-87; pp. 123-34; New York-Dallas flight). En dashes do not have spaces on either side. Do not use an en dash to replace a hyphen.
If you need a detailed description, see the Chicago Manual.
The easiest way to set off items listed vertically in a typed manuscript is to use em dashes. With sentence fragments in a series (vertical), it's best not to use punctuation at the end of each line. However, if you do choose to punctuate for a special reason, be consistent with the punctuation marks.
If the listed items complete a sentence, use a semicolon after each item and a period after the last item. Do not place and before the last item.
If the items in a vertical list are complete sentences, cap the first word and put the appropriate punctuation at the end of each item.
If you decide to use numerals or letters with a list, use a period after them, not parentheses:
Numbers or letters enumerating items in a list within a paragraph should be enclosed in parentheses and should not be followed by a period:
The degree is M.B.A., with periods, in all references. However, when referring to the program or to a person who has earned the degree, use MBA-no periods, no spaces. Plural: M.B.A.s, MBAs.
Quotation marks go inside semicolons and colons, outside commas and periods. Question marks and exclamation points go inside the quotation marks if they are part of the quote and outside if they are not. For more details, see the Chicago Manual.
Items that should be in quotation marks: direct quotes; song titles; short poems; essays; television and radio programs; short story titles; article titles; parts of books (chapters or sections). For more complete information, see the Chicago Manual.
Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC)
Note the apostrophe; no periods with abbreviation.
The following words are considered adverbs rather than conjunctions and should be preceded by a semicolon when used between clauses of a compound sentence: then, however, thus, hence, indeed, yet, so. Semicolons also are used to join complete sentences where a period would create too much of a pause in the train of thought:
Veterans Administration (V.A.)
Use periods with this one.
Capitalize the first letter of each abbreviated part of an academic degree. Use periods and do not use spaces among the letters.
Between sentences and after punctuation
In typewritten material, the typist should space twice between sentences. In printed material or in manuscripts on computer disk to become printed material, only one space is inserted between sentences. All other punctuation should have only one space, if any, after it.
Breaking names at end of line
When two initials and a last name are in text, it is preferred that the entire name be on one line. If a break must be made, it should be after the initials, never between the initials.
Do not insert spaces on either side of a dash. (See "Punctuation")
Initials in a name
When a person uses two initials and a last name, a space should be inserted between the initials. A space also should be inserted between the last initial and the last name.
But, no space between two-letter abbreviations (i.e., U.S., P.O.).
Use hyphens to separate the area code from the exchange and the exchange from the number: 814-863-1870.
Post office box
The post office's machinery has trouble reading typed envelopes unless the addresses are in all caps with no punctuation except for the hyphen in the "plus four" zip code.
Space twice between the city and the state abbreviation and the state abbreviation and the zip code in an address.