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The Writer’s Reference Book


Module 14 – Using Standard Punctuation – Hint Sheet

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.

  • Help!
  • Did someone call for help?
  • Help is on the way.

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.

    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.”

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.

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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