Punctuation

Colon
Capitalize the word after a colon only if it could stand alone as a sentence: The vice president announced his decisions: no fee hike. The vice president announced his decision: He will not raise fees. Exception: In headlines, the word after a colon always is capitalized: Provost: Smoking ban will stand.

Commas
Use a comma after each item in a series, but not before a conjunction (and, or), such as: The building is large, modern and beautiful. Use a comma when listing a complex series of items or with an additional conjunction such as: The building is large, modern, and wired, and beautiful.

Exclamation marks
Do not use exclamation marks, except to show extreme emotion. Try not to use them in headings or more than once on a page.

Hyphens
Use hyphens to join only when needed to avoid ambiguity. Hyphenate words such as lower-division, lower-level and upper-level when using as adjectives. He made all ‘A’s’ in his upper-level courses. Another common mistake is made with the phrases on campus and off campus. Use “on-campus” or “off-campus” when used as an adjective before a noun, but use “on campus” and “off campus” when it follows a noun. She read the brochure about off-campus living. He lived on campus.

Hyphenate part time ­and full time only when they are used to modify a noun: She is a full-time student, and she works part time.

Italics
Italics should never be used.

Punctuating quotations
Always place the comma (and most other punctuation) before the closing quote: “The surgery went well,” said Jill Smith, sister of the injured player.

Quotation marks
Always place commas and periods inside a closing quotation mark, but not semicolons or colons. Nicknames are enclosed in quotation marks. Do not use quotation marks around clichés, figures of speech or for emphasis to suggest irony or special usage.

Semicolon
Use to clarify a series that includes a number of commas. Include a semicolon before the conjunction: The University choir will perform in Pensacola, Fla.; Austin, Texas; and Baton Rouge, La.

Serial comma
Do not use the final comma before a conjunction in a series: She is taking chemistry, biology and English courses this semester.


Revised: July 12, 2017