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10/09/2015

Punctuation to Help with Composition

Remember these rules of punctuation when you write.

Using Periods

A period ends a complete sentence. Question marks and exclamation points eliminate the need for a period. If your sentence ends in an abbreviation, do not add an extra period. For example, "I met with Major Payne, M.D."

Quotation Marks

Use double quotation marks to set off exact, word-for-word quotations, and single quotation marks for quotations within a quotation. Add a space between single and double quotation marks when they are next to each other. Do not use quotation marks when writing, "He told me that Mary is going to the store." Always place periods and commas within the quotation marks. Quotation marks are also customary for titles of magazines, articles, books, and songs, though italics are also acceptable. Finally, use double quotation marks for technical terms, odd expressions, or words used in unusual ways.

Exclamation Points

Exclamation points express surprise, emphasis, or emotion. They replace periods at the end of a sentence. You should avoid using exclamation points in formal writing, unless it is really warranted.

How to Use Ellipses

An ellipsis (pl. ellipses) is that series of three dots you sometimes see when reading. Use ellipses to represent omission from a quotation. For example, if the complete sentence is: "We went to the store, after hours of debate, to buy some milk," you can quote the sentence as, " 'We went to the store...to buy some milk.' " Ellipses also express hesitation, suspense, or trailing off. "Oh no! You don't think that she..."

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