Use the ampersand when it is part of a formal name. Do not use in place of the word "and."
Capitalize first word after colon only if it is a proper noun or if everything after colon is a complete sentence.
- There was a special guest: Don Fraser.
- Only one person was there: the project coordinator.
- He promised this: The company would be solvent by spring.
- There were many considerations: expense, time and feasibility.
Use commas to separate elements in a series, but do not put a comma before the conjunction in a simple series.
- Example: The flag is red, white and blue.
Put a comma before the concluding conjunction in a series if an integral element of the series requires a conjunction.
- Example: I had orange juice, toast, and ham and eggs for breakfast.
Use a comma before the concluding conjunction in a complex series of phrases. Note: when writing for the web, avoid writing a complex series of phrases in a single sentence. Instead, use a list format. See Content accessibility guidelines.
- Example: The main points to consider are whether the athletes are skillful enough to compete, whether they have the stamina to endure the training, and whether they have the proper mental attitude.
With a series of items of equal rank, use a comma if it could be replaced with the word "and."
- Example: She spoke in a thoughtful, precise manner.
If the last adjective outranks the others because it is part of the noun, do not use a comma.
- Example: She manages a large redevelopment project.
Use between city and state and between state and rest of sentence.
- Example: The mayor of Mandan, N.D., was there.
Set the date and year off with a comma.
- Example: April 2, 2005, they went home.
Do not use a comma between the month and year unless there are two months.
- Example: Orientation was in October 2005. Public hearings took place from January to February, 2006.
Do not use a comma before "as well."
- Example: She is a coordinator as well as a supervisor.
Use company's registered name. Do not set off with commas. Example: Keefer Court Food Inc.
Use to denote an abrupt change in thought in a sentence or an emphatic pause.
- Example: I will fly to Paris in June -- if I get a raise.
Use when a phrase that otherwise would be set off by commas contains a series of words that must be separated by commas; use dashes to set off the full phrase.
- Example: He values the applicant’s qualities -- intelligence, humor and independence -- and he hired her.
Exclamation point (!)
Use the mark to express a high degree of surprise, incredulity or other strong emotion.
Place inside quotation marks when part of the quoted material. Place outside quotation marks when not part of the quoted material.
- Example: "Never!" he shouted. Do not touch walls with signs that read “Wet Paint”!
Hyphens are joiners. Use them to avoid ambiguity or to form a single idea from two or more words.
- Example: He recovered his health. He re-covered the leaky roof.
If a word is a compound modifier (two or more words that express a single concept), hyphenate, but if the first word ends in "ly," do not hyphenate.
- Example: A two-bedroom house, minimally impacted economy, pay-as-you-go financing, a two- or three- bedroom home, fifth-largest, environmentally friendly
Use a hyphen to avoid duplicated vowels, tripled consonants.
- Example: Anti-intellectual, shell-like.
Do not capitalize the second word in a hyphenated adjective.
- Example: Single-family homes will be built on the site.
Parentheses ( )
If the text inside the parentheses is not a sentence, do not capitalize the text and place a period after the closing parenthesis (such as this fragment). (An independent parenthetical sentence like this has a period before the closing parenthesis.)
When a phrase in parentheses (this is an example) is a sentence but is dependent on the surrounding material to make sense, do not capitalize the first word or end with a period.
Plural nouns ending in "s": add only apostrophe.
- Example: neighborhoods' needs, managers' training, VIPs' entrance.
Nouns the same in singular, plural
- Example: corps' location, two deer's tracks
Singular nouns ending in "s": add 's unless next word begins with "s."
- Example: hostess's invitation, hostess' seat.
Singular proper nouns ending in “s”: use only apostrophe
- Example: Achilles’ heel, Descartes’ theories, Minneapolis’ schools
Compound nouns: add apostrophe or 's to word closest to object possessed
- Example: anyone else's attitude, major generals' decisions, attorney general's request
Descriptive phrases: do not add apostrophe to word ending in "s" when used primarily in descriptive sense.
Example: Minnesota Twins infielder, teachers college, writers guide, farmers market
Quotation marks (")
The period and comma always go within quotation marks. The dash, colon, semicolon, question mark and exclamation point go inside quotation marks only when they apply to the quoted material. They go outside quotation marks when they apply to the whole sentence.
Use to separate elements of a series when individual segments contain material that also must be set off by commas.
- Example: He leaves a son, John Smith of Chicago; a daughter, Jane Doe of Minneapolis; and a sister, Martha.
Use to link independent clauses when a coordinating conjunction is not present.
- Example: The package was due last week; it arrived today.
Space between sentences
Use a single space between sentences.