Doc on Google Drive | Simple HTML | The Punctuation Guide

The purpose for style standards is to keep the same things the same so that uniquenesses will stand out in celebration.

Double Quotes
Single Quotes
Apostrophes’ Possessive
Credit in Titles
Full Stop
Pound and Asterisk

Abbreviations incl. Sr. U.S.A. et al.

  • Latin

Wikipedia: List of Latin abbreviations

Here are some common Latin abbreviations, note their form.

e.g. (exempli gratia — for instance)

etc. (et cetera — and the others)

et al. (et alii — and other coworkers)

i.e. (id est — that is)

A.D. (anno Domini — in the year of our Lord)

A.M. (ante meridiem — before midday)

P.M. (post meridiem — after midday)

M.O. (modus operandi — method of operating)

M.A. (Magister Artium — Master of Arts)

Ph.D. (Philosophiae Doctor — Doctor of Philosophy)

viz. (videlicet — namely)

v. or vs. (versus — against) v. is usually legal, vs. is usually non-legal

In digital text or casual writing, the period may be omitted to save time and space, but check your style guide!

  • Titles

Mr. Gigglesworth

Dr. Healsome

Sr. Luis

Pres. Trump

  • Long and Common Words

Just make sure the abbreviations are recognizable, known, or explained somewhere in your writing.

…incl. misc. items, or someth. of the sort.

Then, there are some common abbreviations for English grammar, i.e…

adj. Adjective

adv. Adverb

comp. Adjective, comparative

supl. Adjective, superlative

art. Article

n. Noun

ger. Gerund

pret./prt. Preterite

perf./prf. Perfect

vn. Verbal noun

v. Verb

vd. Verb, ditransitive

vi. Verb, intransitive

vt. Verb, transitive

  • Multiple Words, One Letter Each

Do not use spaces between the dotted letters…

United States of America: U.S.A.

In casual writing, and arguably in digital media, you can save time and space by omitting the periods…

United States of America: USA

  • End of a Sentence

An abbreviation period overlaps with a period at the close of a sentence, but not a question or exclamation mark.

Do you want apples, grapes, etc.?

Yes, I want apples, grapes, etc.

Commas, , ,

  • Excerptables, like this,

There are near-countless ways to use commas. You will find that, unless you are listing three or more items, all uses of a comma have one thing in common:

Put commas around anything that can be cut out and the sentence will remain complete.

Do your own research on different ways to use commas. Just note that, except for the Serial (Oxford) Comma, all other uses of commas have excerptability. Here are a few applicable topics to explore, and remember for trivia games…

  1. Non-Restrictive (vs. Restrictive)
  2. Vocative (addressing someone)
  3. Dependent clauses (including logic)
  4. Parentheticals
  5. Beginning a sentence with a conjunction
  6. Before an adverse conjunction
  7. Before a conjunction that joins a compound sentence
  • Serial (Oxford) Comma:
    one, two, and three

Without the serial comma, “two and three” become an excerptable non-restrictive parenthetical two-part subcategory list of “one”.

The Oxford Comma by Eric Edelman

The above artwork is used on this website by permission courtesy the artist and is not covered by the license for this site or its content:
“The Oxford Comma” (Rhinoceri, Washington, and Lincoln) — Eric Edelman

Also consider…

Watch my children, Alice, and the white rabbit.


Watch my children, Alice and the white rabbit.

…while the white rabbit may not be your child, Alice could be…

…unless you’re a rabbit. Or, you might trust Alice and the white rabbit to watch your children. But, we’ll never know with only one comma.

Use the Serial (Oxford) Comma with multiple adjectives and adverbs, even though multiple adjectives and compounding adverbs is usually just tackily tacky.

It was a great, big, ugly, glaring, and amateur mistake to use so many adjectives to cover for lack of ability to digitally, beautifully, and creatively express oneself.

Even with adjectives, the Serial Comma is important—unless you think that “beautifully” and “creatively” are obvious forms of “digitally”; then, by all means, leave it out.

If you want to have respect, be understood and not use the Serial Comma, good luck. (See what I did there?)

…maybe this works better…

If you want to have respect, be understood, and not use the Serial Comma, good luck.

Grammarly: What Is the Oxford Comma and Why Do People Care…?
Wikipedia: Serial comma

Exception with ampersand:

Some lists should be brief, emphatic, and uncomplex, such as titles. To keep these short, with three-item lists, use an ampersand (&) in place of the serial comma in titles like so:

For a list of “one, two, and three”…

In text body: one, two & three

Blog post title: One, Two & Three

…The key is 1. it uses ampersand (&), 2. the ampersand stands where the Serial Oxford Comma would, and 3. it is either a title or the writing is informal enough that ampersand (&) is allowable.

This is preferred for titles.

For a list with an excerptable non-restrictive parenthetical two-part subcategory list of “one”, use the unmistakeable parentheses to drive the point home…

In text body: one (uno & yi)

Blog post title: One (Uno & Yi)

Just the same, this works in other lists where ampersand is allowable in the rest of the style, probably less formal or with materials such as technical guides:

Jim, Julie, Caren & Bob

fish, chips, vinegar & salt

// JavaScript comment to combine CSS, AJAX & HTML

  • if, then

Article: If, Then Statements Require Commas

If you have an if-then statement in a sentence, then you must separate the “then” consequence with a comma before the word “then”.

This seems easy to understand on the surface, but if you write a lot or talk to too many lazy writers, then you may eventually meet people who tell you otherwise.

If people tell you this rule is not important, then don’t listen to them.

You don’t always need to use the word “then”.

If you write many sentences, it can save space just to omit the word “then” altogether, but you must still use the comma.

In some cases when we don’t use “if” either, we still need to use the comma because this illustrates a flow of logic.

When we use “when” instead of “if” at times, we use the comma in the same pattern.

If we want to explain logic differently, we can also use “because” and “so”.

  • Reverse order of logic: Because & so…

Don’t use a comma with the word “because” in the middle of a sentence.

We don’t need to use a comma here because the idea flows naturally without being broken. Because we will reverse the explanation of logic at times, we must therefore use a comma to indicate where the flow was broken.

Never start a sentence with “because” without also including the logical consequence.

Because a complete sentence must stand on its own, we must include this independent clause.

The same logical idea can be written three nearly identical ways…

We use logic in sentences because that just makes sense.

Because that just makes sense, we use logic in sentences.

That just makes sense, so we use logic in sentences.

The word “so” used this way is a conjunction, which has its own rules with commas.

  • Conjunctions: but, yet, however, although, alternatively, though, on the other hand, and, so, thus, hence, therefore, accordingly, or, moreover, and also, but then, and yet, and so,

1. Before the conjunction within complex and compound sentences:

Always use a comma before a conjunction with complex sentences, and never after, but this is not for two-item lists, however there are other places to use conjunctions, therefore conjunctions and commas work together, and yet it takes time to learn, so don’t rush yourself while you learn.

This is only for the purposes of breaking-up a sentence into smaller ideas.

Complete sentences have two other options: semicolon; and two sentences…

If the words both before and after the comma and conjunction are two separate complete sentences, you can also use a semicolon in place of the comma; yet you could also just start a new sentence using the conjunction followed by a comma as explained next…

2. After the conjunction when starting a sentence:

So, this can apply to the beginning of a sentence. But, usually this second sentence could be connected to the sentence before it. However, if you did that, the comma would appear before the conjunction. And also, do this when the conjunction functions with multiple words. So for instance, other words that introduce the sentence also proceed the comma. Yet, we don’t want to do this too often. Accordingly, teachers at high school and below may forbid their students from doing this. Although considering this, that is only to help the students form other good writing habits first. And yet for your readers’ sake, you still do not want to this too often.

Using the comma this way is an overlap of two rules for commas:

a. using a comma with “excerptables”, such as this, (described previously) just that they appear at the beginning of a sentence and

b. using a comma when introducing a sentence, such as the “vocative” case for addressing someone as in: John, please use commas correctly.

Here is a counter-opinion article with old school thought and discussion:
Stack Exchange: English Language & Usage…

  • Calendar Dates
  1. Between words
  2. Between numbers

Consider full dates…

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Friday, March 11, 2011

Sunday, December 7, 1941

Thursday, July 4, 1776

Just the same in partial dates
without the year…

Wednesday, April 17

Friday, March 11

or without the day of the week…

December 7, 1941

July 4, 1776

  • Mailing Addresses

Know the separate parts of an address, then separate with either:

  1. New line
  2. Comma

Do NOT use commas for ANY purpose other than to separate these:

[Addressee Name]
[Street Number & Name (& *Quadrent)]
[State & ZIP Code]
[Country (if international)]

*A “quadrent” (NE, NW, SE, SW) may appear in addresses in some metropolitan areas, such as Washington, DC or Grand Rapids, MI. These are optional, but help to identify the general area of an address location.

I. Address on one line (not on mailed items):
For fancy occasions or single line indecies

President Donald Trump, The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500, USA

Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, 187 Monroe Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503, USA

II. Address on multiple lines (requred for mailed items):
No more than 5 lines!
Country name (for international mail) on new line is preferred

President Donald Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500, USA

Amway Grand Plaza Hotel
187 Monroe Ave NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

“Double Quotes” ” “

  • Quoted Dialogue (Reported Speech)

Use commas to separate narration from dialogue. Close dialogue sentences with punctuation inside the quotes.


He said, “Let’s leave.”


Let’s leave,” he said. Then he added, “for I am weary of punctuation.”

…and with narrated questions…

So,” she asked, “Where is your seat?”

…or, rephrased…

So, where is your seat?” she asked.

Use the narrator’s punctuation outside of quoted dialogue punctuation.

…if the narrator asks about a statement…

Should I have said, “Stop it.”?

…or if the narrator comments about a question…

I didn’t want to ask the question, “What do you think you’re doing?”.

  • Implied Speech (say yes, say no, etc.)

It is worth noting that simple statements do not need quotes for reported speech if they are 1. commonly known and 2. imply an idea that likely includes simple or more elaborate speech, such as:

He said no.
I hope they say yes.
Remember to say thank you.
She said bye.
I hate saying goodbye.
Did you just say hello?
We should say hi.

These should be limited to the verb say with: yes, no, hi, bye, hello, goodbye, good day, good morning, good afternoon, good evening, good night, thank you, et cetera.

  • Exacting Words (Identifying Terminology)

Use quotes to indicate exact words as used. Do not quote punctuation of non-dialogue.

…when identifying specific words…

I like the color plum, right at the top of the list.

…in reference to misspoken or invented words…

Let’s listen to the president’s new strategery in his speech.

…regardless of truthfulness…

He claims to be an honest politician.


Hard work—that’s what you call it? Remind me to bring a lemonade and lawn chair next time I do hard work.

  • Titles (books, periodical/blog articles, songs, artwork pieces, et cetera)

In your normal paragraph, put quotes around the title.

In his book Mere Theology, Jesse will leave you both enlightened and exhausted.

Some style guides require underling book titles and magazine names, but put quotes on newspaper and magazine articles. But, with the Internet this may be less common. Book and magazine names don’t need the distinction. And, on the Internet, underlining often indicates a clickable hyperlink. There are no absolute rules with this beyond the style guide for your project. But, it is probably safe to use quotes for all titles, including books and magazines, and reserve underlining for clickable hyperlinks.

‘Single Quotes’ ‘ ‘

  • Dialogue within dialogue”

Use single quotes inside anything inside double quotes.

Then she murmured, “I don’t know who he thinks he is, saying, We’ve already got one.

  • Quotes inside titles

In actual titles, use single quotes so that double quotes can be wrapped around them without confusion or alteration. (This is opinion and some style guides may have other rules, but it should be easily allowable and is certainly courteous.)

Blog post: Serial Ampersand One, Two & Three

Blog post: She said, ‘Not on your life!

…but, colon-playwright style is better for reporting speech in titles…

Blog post: She: Not on your life!

To be added: contractions

Apostrophes Possessive

Three rules:

  1. Add only and always one s
  2. Apostrophe comes after an added plural s
  3. No s added to proper nouns of Government

Example of rules 1 & 2:



cars’ dealer

many cities’ differing laws

people‘s will

many peoples’ various will

people is plural, unless one refers people groups: peoples’

Example and rationale of rule 3:

Supreme Justice Scalia is the working standard. US Supreme Court opinions vary, but the majority never added an s to “Congress”. Much of this is based on historic writing of the court, notwithstanding that proper nouns of government could not be plural while other proper nouns could, for example, “many Jesuses“.

Quote from the Boston Globe:

But Scalia, despite his reputation as a usage stickler, has no clear principles on possessives, said Starble. He has written “Ramos’s” and “witness’s,” New York Times-style, but also Illinois’ and Congress’, as AP would do it.

Dashes — – – — – – — – –

Windows: (numeric keypad)
em — Alt+0151
en – Alt+0150

Linux: (‘Compose Key’ is determined in keyboard settings)
em — Compose – – –
en – Compose – – .

Say, “Siri, how to I type an em dash or en dash?” Wait, you mean you type instead of just having Siri transcribe for you? #MacMoment

The em and en dashes are not simply double hyphens. It is grossly careless and incompetent for a news or writing website or publication to use double hyphens where an em or en dash is intended.

Microsoft Word, LibreOffice Writer, and other wordprocessors usually convert two hyphens (- -) into an em dash (—) or an en dash (–), depending on context; no space between words for em dash and space between words for en dash. This is an automatic “quick fix” for easy typing and is not a genuine use of dashes.

  • em Dash —

Use in place of commas (except in lists), or in place of parentheses and semicolons. This adds both emphasis and clarity.

Let’s talk about three thingsall of which I’m sure you will understandafter we finish lunch.

The em dash makes it easier to follow the thought flow in interjections.

Any sentence fragment at allyou can interrupt yourself with an em dash.

Classic use of the em dash is in the Gettysburg Address…

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicatewe can not consecratewe can not hallowthis ground.

The em dash can also ascribe a quote to its author.

Technically, use the “quotation dash”—which is usually identical to the em dash, but may have a different computer code. Never use the en dash for this – that would be just tacky! (Space after the dash is probably a matter of preference and specific style guides. If in doubt, ask your style guide guardian.)

…these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

President Abraham Lincoln

  • en Dash –

Use the en dash to indicate a range of numbers or items


June 23August 8

Numbers (dates, years, or any number)…




Listed items…




  • Hyphen –

Add a prefix to a word with a hyphen if the prefix cannot be considered part of proper spelling.

I won’t say it is “inappropriate”, just that it is nonappropriate.

Connect two separate words into one word for grammatical purposes…

In other words, that lessthanappropriate action will be wellremembered.


Let’s talk about your wordgrouping errors.

In a list of hyphenated words with a common word in the hyphenation, you can leave out the common word in the “outside” items, but still include the hyphen.

Let’s invite career and workrelated speakers.
(career-related and work-related speakers)

We are planning a worldwide and aware forum.
(world-wide and world-aware forum)

Connect the tens and ones place in spelled numbers…

fiftyseven, thirtytwo, seventeen, one hundred five, and eightythree

Use the hyphen as a “minus” symbol, though it may have a different computer code…

6 2 = 4

Colon: :: :

  • Time


  • Introduce Lists

Please include the following: a pencil, string, and toothpaste.

  • Introduce Ideas

Do not capitalize after the colon if the sentence is not complete…

You overlooked one thing: candles.

Do capitalize after the colon if the sentence is complete…

How’s this: Let’s talk over coffee.

  • Playwright Dialogue

Avison: Let’s eat!

Jamison: Let’s not and say we did!

  • Field Labels

Date of Birth: April 1, 1900

Credit in Titles

When crediting a source or syndicate within a title, there are no clear, set rules that govern all titles. But, common experience will seek a way that is most recognizable.

  • Citing Reported Sources

If crediting a source of a claim or report, place the source at the beginning, followed by a colon.

Speaker: What Is Spoken

Obama: Let Me Be Clear

Trump: That I can Tell You

Henny Penny: The Sky Is Falling

  • Crediting an Author, Syndicate, Media, or Agency

Place the author or agency at the end of the title, separated by a pipe…

Americans Know Each Other | Pacific Daily Times

In the case of an authority or author with a syndicate or social media that you want to include, place the syndicate or media first, then the author or authority, separated by an en dash.

Dow edges up to record high, financials dipsYahoo – Reuters

Inside the most dangerous assignments | YouTube – CBS News

If, for whatever reason, the credited author or agency needs to be placed at the beginning, use a colon as if citing a source…

Pacific Daily Times: Americans Know Each Other

Yahoo – Reuters: Dow edges up to record high, financials dips

YouTube – CBS News: Inside the most dangerous assignments

Semicolon; ;; ;

  • Joint logical sentences

We should find all the mice; our computers won’t work without them.

  • Large list sub-groups, distinguished from commas

This is not normal and is based on style, but if often makes sense

There are three sets of numbers: 8, 5, 9; 7, 22, 0; 1267, 4, 19.

(Parentheses) ()

Use parentheses for any added idea. This is just the way you would use commas to indicate that the words can be cut out of the sentence, but adds emphasis that 1. the idea is a separate thought and 2. the reader can skip past the parentheses entirely and not miss vital information.

I have many (very many, to say the least) ideas (my pizza crust recipe notwithstanding) which I am famous for .

Put periods inside the parentheses if the parentheses wrap an entire sentence.

Growing window lettuce is one of the recently-forgotten kitchen gardening arts. (We can revisit that later.)

Put the period outside of the parentheses that can be removed from the sentence.

Refer to the list (below).

Note: Some style guides may have specific rules, such as the period must be inside the parentheses, even if they only wrap part of a sentence. This largely came before copy-paste technology was widely-used with the Internet. But, consult your style guide because some styles may differ.

Full Stop: ‘Period’, ‘Point’, ‘Dot’

Wikipedia: Full stop
Jakub Marian: ‘Dot’, ‘period’, ‘full stop’, and ‘point’ in English

The “full stop” is the British name for that little dot at the end of a sentence, in American and non-UK English often called a “period”. But, we use it often and in multiplicity of circumstance. So, what should we call it?

  • Period

At the end of a sentence, you may call it, plainly and simply, “period”, or “full stop” if you want to be, as they say, British.

I don’t want the horses to halt; so I’m not calling it a “full stop“, period.

If the movie “The Bridge on the River Kwai” had made any mention of the punctuation ending a sentence, the soldiers in the plot might have made a full stop in the opening scene, the movie would have no plot, that daft whistling song might not sing in any of our minds, and the world would be much better place, period.

  • Point

In Math and to indicate a “decimal” mark in a number—whether a non-integer value or a version number of software or a book or even a dewy-decimal system, call it a “point”.

But Officer, I was traveling fifty-five point nine miles per hour (55.9). That’s not quite fifty-six point zero (56.0).

One quarter is zero point two five (0.25).

Microsoft released Windows version three point one (3.1), then version three point one one (3.11), then they changed the names to reflect years and strange anomalies in the cosmos until Windows 8 needed a revision and became version eight point one (8.1).

About the time Ubuntu seventeen point ten (17.10) was released, WordPress was running version four point eight point two (4.8.2). (Ubuntu people don’t speak ‘point‘ in the name, but they all know its there.)

First, we had USB. Then, we had USB two (2). Then, we had USB three (3). But, that had some trouble, so it then became USB three point one (3.1) and, probably to save face, retrospectively renamed the second generation “USB two point zero” (2.0). Then, the industry dropped the whole numbering thing and just called it “SS” for “Super Speed”.

If you are looking to study Finsler Geometry, you should look up books under five sixteen point three seven five (516.375).

  • Dot

In web addresses, IP addresses, URLs, URIs, code language terms, and computer file names, call it a “dot”.

Many people think it a sign of academic ascension to say “point” in giving web addresses. They clearly skipped too many Math classes during grade school.

write.pink is spoken, “Write dot pink.”

inkisaverb.com is spoken, “Ink is a verb dot com.”

Though I’m not sure why, my favorite IP address is seven seven seven dot seven seven seven dot seven seven seven dot seven seven eight (777.777.777.778).

PinkWrite dot me (pinkwrite.me) is very different from PinkWrite dot com (pinkwrite.com), much how WordPress dot com (wordpress.com) is very different from WordPress dot org (wordpress.org). The first one is for making money while the second one is just free and awesome, period.

In CSS, the section dot pinkness (.pinkness) is a class that probably has an awesome color. If dot pinkness (.pinkness) is for writers, the color will probably be HEX: F71771.

Photographs should use the .jpg (dot J-P-G) format, while graphic art and transparency should use .png (dot P-N-G).

The file pinkwrite.odt (PinkWrite dot O-D-T) is an Open Document format, but no one knows where to download it.

If you debate the nomenclature, remember that we have the DJ/producer Dotcom, as well as the notorious, infamous hero of the somewhere-world, Kim Dotcom, who changed his surname to reference a well documented and unmistakably labeled type of “thing” often called or celebrating a website. Once someone with a household name makes a surname change to “Pointcom”, we shall revisit the matter. Until then, “dot” is for addresses. SoundCloud: Dotcom | Facebook: Dotcom | kim.com | Twitter: @KimDotcom | Investopedia: Dotcom | Wikipedia: Dot-com company | Wikipedia: Dot-com bubble

Pound # and Asterisk *

Hash” (#) and “star” (*) may be considered “common names” for these special characters. These common names are unmistakable since they cannot be confused with other characters of the same name. A five-point star with five connecting lines at the points is not a special character, it is a “symbol” and is not found on a normal typing keyboard. “Pound” or “pound sign” could refer to an English weight or a British currency. “Asterisk” has many syllables and complex phonetics, complicating communication, though it is most specific. Usually, when giving the name of a character, the goal is to be clear and concise so as to avoid confusion. These common names, though informal, often achieve this best.

The “hash” symbol (#) has no universal, standard term, it depends on context. The “star” or “asterisk” (*) could always be called either, except only “star” in reference to the telephone.

  • Pound # and Star *
  1. Phone: When referring to the dial pad or what to key over the phone, # is called “pound” and * is called “star“.
  2. Notes: In taking notes, such as writing while during a lecture or jotting on a notepad while reading a book, the * (asterisk) may be called a “star” when used as a footnote or an independent, emphasized bullet point or comment. *Note to self: Using a “star thought” this way can be useful.
  • Number Sign #1

The “number sign” is used in front of an Arabic numeral, usually to indicate a kind of ordinal.

Here, #1 = No.1 and #2 = No.2, et cetera. #1 is spoken “number one” and #2 is spoken “number two“. This has a similar, possibly identical, idea of 1st and 2nd, et cetera, respectively. The term “number sign” is what the character (#) would be called when spoken, but this is rare and should only be for character clarification.

  • Asterisk* (plural = asterisks)**

In identifying footnotes or the technical name of the character, the name “asterisk” or plural “asterisks” applies. Usually, when describing a text with an asterisk footnote, such as a teacher or student discussing a textbook or article, the term “asterisk” (*) is most useful. Two contiguous asterisks (**) to indicate a second footnote would then be called a “double asterisk“, and “tripple asterisk” (***), et cetera. So, a “tripple asterisk” has three asterisks***.

  • Hash # and hashtag #hashtag

The term “hash” should be used when referencing computer code, digital content, text content, or meta taxonomy that contains this symbol.

I typed “hash exclamation percent dollar sign at symbol” (#!%$@) to indicate the comic character was angry.

Place a hash (#) at the beginning of a Shell script line to create a comment.

A “tag” (meta taxonomy) may also be known by the vernacular term “key word” often used in academic journals. Tags are usually positive taxonomies as opposed to exclusive taxonomies (labels vs folders). The vernacular term “key word” simply means that a word is “important” in any context.

When using a “tag” or “key word” in a way that uses the hash symbol (#) as the first character of the term/taxonomy, specifically for a searchable and/or cross-referenceable meta taxonomy, the term “hashtag” (#hashtag #grammar #style) is correct and appropriate. But, the “hash” symbol should never, under any circumstances, be referred to as a “hashtag symbol” since that would be redundant, comparable to “ATM machine” or “money dollar symbol sign character” #headdesk.