Punctuation Rules

basic punctuation rulesThere are a plenty of mistakes that students commit in making their academic works and presentations such as grammar, spelling, and the most common, punctuation which we will be discussing in this short article.Punctuation is a set of standard marks and signs distinct from one another to separate words and sentences so as to make then clear and understandable.

Be careful while writing an academic paper or personal statement. We are now providing you some basic punctuation rules for guiding you during your original academic papers:

1. PERIOD (.)

Among all the punctuation marks, period comes to be one of the most frequently used. Because if we want to end a sentence than we use it. Sometimes it can also be referred as “dot”. It can be used in many ways such as:

  • At the end of a declarative sentence
  • Abbreviations
  • Decimal point
  • Separator of dollars and cents
  • After a number in an a numerated list

An exclamation point is a mark used to indicate a strong emotion or emphasis in a sentence, a phrase or a word. Try to use it only when you want to express your emotions. Like if you want to get an admission into a university than use exclamation point when you are trying to explain your emotions for that university and for that program.


A question mark is used at the end of a question. When enclosed in a parenthesis, it can also indicate that a writer is not sure about the correctness of his work like in spelling. Normally it is used when you are asking something from someone.

4. COMMA (,)

A comma has many varieties of a usage like a period:

  • As a separator if at least three items are numerated in a form of a sentence

(It is still acceptable if a comma is omitted before a conjunction in a series)

  • To separate street, city, and state when referring to an address
  • In writing date formats
  • To clarify large amount of number (Between every group of three numbers starting from the decimal point)
  • To set an interruption in the main thought of the sentence
  • To separate two or more adjectives that describe the same object
  • If a sentence starts from a dependent clause, comma should be used after it (Just like in this sentence)
  • Before a conjunction in a compound sentence where the independent clauses are not too short
  • When quoting put a comma at the left of a quotation mark if there is no a period, a question mark or an exclamation point
  • Use a comma after a mild interjection
  • After a noun of a direct address
  • After a greeting and closing in a personal letter
  • To indicate that a pause is necessary when delivering the sentence to avoid confusion
  • After an appositive.
  • To set off the abbreviation “etc.”

A semi colon looks like a coma with a period on top of it. It can be used as a separator of two independent clauses in a sentence which eliminates the need of a comma and conjunction. It can also be used to separate items with punctuation in series.

6. COLON (:)

A colon may be used in several ways:

  • Between hours and minutes to indicate a time format
  • To introduce a listing of items
  • When mentioning a volume and page numbers, a colon is put between them
  • After a greeting in a business letter
  • When mentioning the chapter and verse numbers in the Bible

An apostrophe (‘) is used in the following cases:

  • In a contraction (i.e. don’t, I’m) to indicate the position where letters have been excluded or left out
  • At the beginning of a year when it is written using only the last two digits
  • To indicate the plural form of a letter, number, symbol, or word used as a word or noun.
  • For indicating use of possessive

Quotation marks (“”) are used in the following cases:

  • To enclose direct quotes. If the quote is divided by the speaker tag, then separate sets of quotation marks must be used for each part of the quote. They must not enclose the speaker tag.
  • To enclose titles of articles, songs, stories, or poems
  • To enclose words, letters, and symbols discussed in a special way, and for words that are slang
  • Single quotation marks (‘‘) must be used for quotes within quotes
  • Any punctuation mark must be placed to the left of a quotation mark. It is an exception if the punctuation mark is being used to punctuate the whole sentence instead of the quoted words, and in this case, the punctuation mark can be placed after the quotation mark

An ellipsis (…) is used in the following cases:

  • To indicate a pause in the sentence
  • To indicate that words have been omitted in a quotation
10. HYPHEN (-)

A hyphen (-) is used in the following cases:

  • In compound numbers (i.e. numbers written as words) from twenty-one to ninety-nine
  • Between the numbers in a fraction
  • Informing compound adjectives that are placed right before the nouns they modify
  • To show family relationships, exception is using “grand” and “half”
11. Dash ( – )

The dash is a punctuation mark (-) which is used particularly to point out a break in the thought or structure of a sentence. Basically, dash can be used in the following cases:

  • Dash can be used where you are using a series of introductory elements
  • Dash can also be used to attach an afterthought to an already complete sentence

Brackets are generally used around words of your own. These are those words that you add to the words of someone you are quoting.


An underline is in other words underscore. Generally, it is one or more horizontal lines immediately below a portion of writing. Underline whether it is single or double was originally used in typewritten or hand-written documents which the main purpose was to make an emphasis on some important piece of the text.

  • Try to underline titles when you are writing long works/statements or academic papers
  • Try to underline those foreign words which are not commonly used by you in everyday English

punctuation rulesWe have minimized the use of terms from ‘traditional grammar’ in our explanations and most of the examples we use are from real students’ writing. As we believe that punctuation is related to the meaning, particular ‘tools’ of punctuation (e.g. commas) are introduced in this guide according to what they are actually ‘doing’ and why. We think that you will try your best in preparing your academic essays and personal statements. Our main aim is to help you in your study and also in your job interview. If you are still confused about grammar mistakes then we are available for your help all the time.

Contact us without any hesitation. We can solve your problems of original academic writing!