Welcome to Professor Pam's Home Page
these rules to help you select punctuation.
Semicolon (;) No Conjunction (nc)
a semicolon to separate two independent clauses if there is no coordinating
conjunction between them.
a colon after an expression that introduces and enumeration.
enumerated or bulleted items are placed on separate lines for special emphasis,
start each with a capital and end each with a period.
- Courteous Request (cr)
a request is phrased as a question but calls for an answer in the form of
action, use a period at the end of the sentence.
Quotation Marks (“ “)
quotation marks to set off the exact quoted words.
a short quotation with a comma.
and commas are placed inside the final quotation mark.
She said, “My work is completed.”
cannot see you today,” he said.
a long quotation with a colon.
not use quotation marks to set off indirect quotations.
question marks inside or outside the quotation marks according to the meaning of
colons and semicolons outside the final quotation mark.
a compound expression before a noun.
not hyphenate a compound expression after a noun.
Your account is not past due.
expression that must be kept together for logic is a “one-thought” modifier.
Hyphenate “one-thought” modifiers before and after a noun.
We sell tax-exempt bonds.
The bonds are tax-exempt.
not hyphenate a compound expression when the first word is an adverb ending in
`s to make a singular noun show possession.
Add an apostrophe to make a plural noun ending in s show possession.
`s to make a plural noun not ending is s show possession.
not use apostrophes in possessive pronouns.
A dash is typed as two hyphens with no space between them.
Use a dash instead of other
punctuation when special emphasis is required. In business writing,
dashes should be used very sparingly.
parenthetical expression contains internal commas, set off the complete
expression with dashes.
Use a dash to set off an
There should really be very few afterthoughts in business writing!)
Parentheses ( )
Place parentheses around
explanatory expressions to de-emphasize them.
Place parentheses around
parentheses around numbers or letters accompanying enumerated items within a
sentence. For bulleted
statements, do not surround the number in parentheses.
Exclamation Point (!)
An exclamation point may be used to express strong feeling, urgency, or enthusiasm. In business writing, exclamation points should be used very rarely.
is never an occasion to use more than one exclamation point at the end of a
exclamations are mild, a period or comma is sufficient.
©Division of Business,
Economics & Mathematics, WVUP, 2011.
Steve.Morgan@mail.wvu.edu ;Business Division Office: