Read these 16 Punctuation Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Writing tips and hundreds of other topics.
When you use several words to modify a noun, those words must be hyphenated. For example, all of these words--"I," "don't," and "care"--are used as an adjective phrase to describe attitude in this sentence: "He has an I-don't-care attitude."
Consequently, those three words have to be hyphenated.
Contrary to what many of us were taught in school, if a singular noun ends in an "s," it still gets an extra "s" added after the apostrophe if you pronounce the extra "s."
our boss's office
St. Louis's Gateway Arch
If it is difficult to pronounce the extra "s," then you only add an apostrophe.
New Orleans' Bourbon Street
Los Angeles' smog
If a parenthetical phrase falls within a sentence, the ending period, or other punctuation, should be placed outside the ending parenthesis; however, if the parenthetical phrase follows a complete sentence (after a period), the period for the parenthetical phrase goes inside the ending parenthesis.
Ex: Your account value is determined by multiplying the number of shares by that day's closing price (net asset value).
Ex: Your account value is determined by multiplying the number of shares by that day's closing price. (The closing price is referred to as the net asset value.)
When a short direct question falls within a sentence, the question is set off by commas and a question mark is used at the end of the sentence.
We're going out to dinner, aren't we, after the movie?
Periods and commas always go INSIDE the closing quotation mark.
Semicolons and colons always go OUTSIDE the closing quotation mark.
Question marks and exclamation points vary, depending on whether they apply only to the quoted material or to the entire sentence.
To determine how to punctuate a compound possessive, first determine ownership.
If two people own something jointly:
Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream
If two people both own separate things:
Ben's and Jerry's houses (We're assuming that they each have a house that they do not own jointly.)
seller's market (or buyer's market)
We were taught in typing class to space twice after a period at the end of the sentence. That's correct for a typewriter. However, most of us use computers with proportional characters. In that case, you only space once after the period.
To see examples of monospacing (which gets two spaces after a period) and proportional characters (one space), compare two common fonts.
Courier is monospacing.
Times Roman is proportional.
A colon is used after an introductory clause that contains a complete thought and will be followed by a list.
To reregister the account, we must receive the following documentation: a copy of your divorce decree, a completed application, and written instructions from you.
Abbreviations of academic degrees (and religious orders) require a period after each element in the abbreviation but no internal space.