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Using Standard Punctuation




1. END PUNCTUATION--Use a period at the end of a statement, a question mark at the end of a question, and an exclamation point at the end of a statement that expresses strong emotion.


Did someone call for help?

Help is on the way.

2. QUOTATIONS--Direct quotations set off the exact words of a speaker.

Sandra said, "I thought I smelled a rat."

"I tried to talk to him," complained Arthur.

"We thought," said Ethel, "that you would be there."

If the quote itself is a question or an exclamation, the question mark or exclamation point goes inside the quotation marks: "How do you do?" she asked.

If the quote itself is not a question or an exclamation, the question mark or exclamation point goes outside the quotation marks: Did Alice say "Be quiet"?

Indirect quotations do not have quotation marks: Sally said that she didn't like Ralph.

3. OTHER USES FOR QUOTATION MARKS: Use quotation marks around magazine articles, essays, short poems, songs, one-act plays, and other things shorter than a book:

The band played Led Zeppelin's song "Stairway to Heaven."

4. UNDERLINING TO INDICATE ITALICS--To indicate italics, underline titles of books, pamphlets, magazines, newspapers, films and videos, television and radio programs, plays, names of ships, paintings, sculptures, record albums, long musical works, and long poems:

I read the St. Louis Post-Dispatch every day.


Use an apostrophe to indicate possession:

The one girl's answer was correct.

Two girls' answers were correct.

The Jones' house is huge. (Also correct: the Jones's)

Use an apostrophe in contractions:

It's a zoo in there.

Who's going to the dance?

Personal pronouns do not use apostrophes:

The storm expended its fury.

The book was hers.

6. HYPHENS--You can use a hyphen to break a work at the end of a line, but only between syllables:

The little girl won the spelling bee by spelling folk-

lore correctly.

Use a hyphen in compound words: Jack is self-indulgent.

Use a hyphen in numbers: twenty-eight, fifty-six, etc.

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