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Questions tagged [punctuation]

The correct and appropriate usage of punctuation.

4
votes
1answer
26 views

How to punctuate dialogue tags with action descriptions

Someone told me that it's incorrect or outdated punctuation to put a comma after "said" in dialogue tags such as the following (from an old book we're reprinting): “I shouldn’t wonder if you could ...
1
vote
1answer
25 views

Dots in lists with mixed-width items

It is common to omit end-dots in lists with very short items: Shop list: * Milk * Bread * Probably eggs It is common to use end-dots in lists with long descriptive items: Things which should be ...
3
votes
1answer
34 views

How to refer to complex job titles in cover letters?

Sometimes job listings use slashes and hyphens in the title of the job to specify specialties or other job characteristics. For instance, here are two listings on stack exchange: Data Scientist - ...
0
votes
1answer
67 views

Punctuating dialogue that is interrupted by thoughts/internal monologue rather than action?

So I've got a bit: Alta blinked. She pushed on, smiling, “—the argument. When the argument succeeds, which I still don’t fully deem, even after that—it looks to me like you’ve still got to do all ...
7
votes
7answers
3k views

Is it okay to use a lot of exclamation marks?

I've noticed that I use a lot of exclamation marks when my characters are talking. They appear a lot in action scenes. Is there any rule of thumb when using exclamation marks?
5
votes
2answers
70 views

Parentheses in scientific writing

I occasionally use parentheses in scientific writing when a piece of information is related to a previous statement but not to the central story. Is it bad style in scientific writing to use ...
3
votes
1answer
80 views

Punctuation when using inline dialogue

I am a bit crazy about punctuation and I have a question that I'm struggling to find a consensus on. For dialogue (especially in fiction), I always use the standard format: "I told you I wanted ...
17
votes
5answers
2k views

Eliminating the Dash in Prose Writing

I have been accused — shock, horror — of using the dash (the one that indicates a three-quarters pause) too much in my fiction. Thing is — I quite like the effect (the space inserted in sentences by ...
2
votes
0answers
331 views

Clarifying English Writing Conventions [closed]

I need example and usage of the following. "but" - I seen it used but without comma, but after comma, and new sentence with But. What's the proper way to use it. "However" - I seen it used start of a ...
8
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2answers
137 views

What is the correct way to use semicolons vs. commas vs. em dashes?

In Sabriel by Garth Nix, near the beginning of Chapter Two, there is the following sentence: Anything powerful enough to cross the Wall usually retained enough magic to assume the shape of a soldier; ...
3
votes
3answers
81 views

Properly punctuate a quote

I am trying to learn to properly punctuate a quote, for example If I have I said "Let us go" and we left. Do I put a comma before or after the quote? Do I put a period after the word go before ...
0
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2answers
117 views

What is the rule for commas?

How many commas is too many commas? For example: By looking at our data we can see a clear pattern, or trend, in our data that, as the steepness of the inclined plane increases, the effort force ...
6
votes
3answers
102 views

Which is the correct way to punctuate this dialogue with ellipses?

Below are four alternate dialogues that I am confused between. I'd like to know which is the correctly punctuated one. Also please explain how to use ellipses in a dialogue which is interrupted by a ...
3
votes
3answers
301 views

In first person narrative, is it acceptable to end rhetorical questions with a period?

In first person narrative, would it be acceptable to use a period in place of a question mark when the narrator is asking a rhetorical question? example: My car broke down again. Why does this always ...
3
votes
1answer
273 views

Where does the question mark go in Harvard Referencing when quoting a question with a citation at the end of a sentence (not itself a question)?

If I am quoting a question, and the quotation comes at the end of a sentence with a citation, where does the question mark go? I have been told that question marks (and full stops) should come after ...
3
votes
1answer
81 views

Words and Phrases Used as Words

The Chicago Manual of Style: When a word or term is not used functionally but is referred to as the word or term itself, it is either italicized or enclosed in quotation marks. Proper nouns ...
2
votes
1answer
152 views

Dash and space usage for dialogue interruptions, stuttering, starting over

I'm hoping for guidance on several very similar situations, which I suspect are all meant to be punctuated and spaced differently. Stuttering How would you write someone stuttering out the word "you"...
3
votes
5answers
122 views

How to make a statement formulated like an exclamation, but even-toned?

In writing, particularly writing dialogue or speech-like prose, it is custom to use the punctuation to indicate the tone of the speech. As such, one often uses an exclamation point on a standard ...
4
votes
1answer
73 views

Dialogue continuations by another speaker: capitalize or no?

Which of these is correct? I showed him the woman. “Blood loss is a problem. She needs the wound cauterized.” His eyes widened, “I can’t do that! Her face—” “—is half scraped off. She’...
1
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2answers
91 views

When do I use single quotation marks when I am typing or writing?

I'm new to this website so I need help. A couple punctuation marks confuse me. It's hard for me to remember stuff.
1
vote
2answers
231 views

Need clarification on use of M-dash and ellipsis in screenplay, I've seen numerous conflicting sources on this

I will try to explain the general idea I've gotten from the most trusted source in my opinion. PLZ EXCUSE MY CRUDE INSULT TO SCREENPLAY FORMAT, I DON'T KNOW HOW TO TRANSFER THE REAL THING INTO THIS ...
2
votes
1answer
63 views

Should I use colons and semicolons to summarize information?

I'm writing a paper that goes something like this: To quickly summarize MIT is located in Massachusetts FIU is in Florida, The tuition cost for MIT is 45 thousand versus 6 thousand for 30 credits ...
0
votes
2answers
802 views

The use of the tilde in English?

The 'tilde' key, or (~) is commonly found in programming and in other languages to express repetition of characters, for example, 'Woooo!' would become 'Woo~!' and in Japanese text, the tilde is ...
1
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3answers
98 views

Why use quotes on the word “Dad” when talking to someone? [closed]

If a step-father is texting his step daughter and he writes: Maybe your "dad" can step up and take the dog What's meant by putting quotation marks around the word "dad"?
2
votes
2answers
281 views

Using capital letters and full-stop in bullet points

This question may be related with this question. I come to the direct point. I am confused with the usage of bullet points. Is is necessary to capitalize the first letter in each bullet point? Also, ...
0
votes
1answer
67 views

How to indicate that another point is mentioned withou explicitly saying that?

In the email I'm writing there are three separate points. The last two ones are not so long so that each of them can fit in a single paragraph. However, the first one is needed to be split into two ...
3
votes
1answer
260 views

Am I using too many commas?

I feel like I'm using too many commas. I'm a pretty young writer and I didn't exactly pay attention in English class very often (I was too busy reading a shit load of books and passing with C+'s) and ...
2
votes
3answers
162 views

Should I punctuate my poems

Most poetry I have seen, especially free-form, is written in broken lines. These lines them run into other lines and so not have any punctuation. Some have explained this using enjambment. Where I ...
2
votes
2answers
815 views

Dedication Punctuation - include a period?

For the dedication of my upcoming book, I have written For my child. Do you think that period should be there?
0
votes
1answer
45 views

Partial clauses after semi-colons

I recently read a novel with a section that went something like this: "I have often wished that I had born into a different family; that I had never studied art at college; that my voice weren't so ...
7
votes
5answers
2k views

Using exclamation points in fiction

I've heard some advice that you're only supposed to use an exclamation point every 100,000 words or so. I'm finding this advice very hard to follow; I've written 2,000 words so far and have about 5 ...
5
votes
5answers
664 views

How to show that one long line of poetry is only one line

If I'm writing the following clerihew resume where I'm constrained to 40 characters per line. +----------------------------------------+ |Peter Turner | |code burner ...
1
vote
2answers
395 views

Period outside quotation marks …?

I am quoting a phrase (not dialog) that happens to come at the end of a sentence. Formal writing protocol - I think - tells us that punctuation goes inside the quotes but it seems strange here. A ...
6
votes
2answers
2k views

When dialog is italicized, should the quotation marks be italicized as well?

For example, in the following exchange, "Shut up!" she yelled. "I can't think when you ramble." (For context, it's for a novel or online story publication.) I want to emphasize the two words shut ...
1
vote
2answers
330 views

What punctuation to use when a character is writing something down?

I'm trying my hand at editing a friends work, and I've got a little stumped. They wrote the following: 'Thinks he's the smartest one in the room,' Henry wrote on a piece of paper. (For context, ...
0
votes
1answer
78 views

Do you capitalize the names of governments in a story?

I know that names of countries, states, cities, and counties are always capitalized, but what about governments and organizations? In my novella there are basically 2 sections of space, and each have ...
1
vote
1answer
74 views

Using chapter breaks

I know you are supposed to used Chapter breaks to cut between scenes, but I was wondering if you are supposed to use Chapter breaks when you reference a period of time elapsing within the same scene. ...
2
votes
4answers
674 views

Use double or triple minus hyphen (-) to stand in for em dash?

Should I use -- or --- to stand in for — ? I've seen people use double hyphen minus, but some apparently use triple. It could be nice to use triple, since then you can reserve double to stand in for ...
1
vote
1answer
99 views

How to punctuate the synonym to a word or phrase? [closed]

I have a sentence: ... to further everyones agenda; revenge. Is this the correct punctuation? Or should the semicolon simply be a comma? I know this is an incredibly dumb question and I should know ...
3
votes
1answer
404 views

Show the translation of foreign language thoughts in a manuscript?

Background Part of an English story takes place in rural South America, where Spanish is the native tongue. Problem A Spanish character thinks to himself. In English (i.e., in the story's native ...
4
votes
1answer
297 views

Plural of single letter variables

Excuse me if I am on the wrong StackExchange site. I write about Physics in English and typeset that with LaTeX. So I have a variable c, and there are two of them in the same expression. I want to ...
1
vote
1answer
522 views

Use of ellipses at the end of a passage [duplicate]

My actual passage is a bit involved, but I've had this come up a few times over the years, and I've never resolved the issue. So I'll give a generic passage. I posted this question on ELU but didn't ...
2
votes
3answers
1k views

How can I write acronyms in fiction?

I'm wondering whether I can use acronyms without the period between each letter in fiction writing. Adding the period seems kind of clunky and stops the flow of the sentence a little but I don't want ...
1
vote
2answers
1k views

Correct punctuation for he said, she said

It was recently suggested to me that when attributing dialogue after a quote it should always end comma close quote lowercase, as in: "That's what," he said. However, if the character speaks in ...
5
votes
1answer
91 views

How does one indicate uncertainty in a quote?

When quoting the spoken word, and if one particular word is difficult to distinguish, how does one properly indicate the uncertainty if that particular word has been quoted correctly? The following ...
3
votes
2answers
214 views

Using comma splices in dialogue

At university, it was drilled into us to avoid comma splices like the plague, but I keep seeing them in all different types of famous, best-selling novels. I read things (all in dialogue, in inverted ...
8
votes
5answers
6k views

Using colons and semi-colons in dialogue

I've often heard writers say they don't like using colons and semi-colons in dialogue specifically. I don't often see colons and semi-colons in dialogue, but sometimes it just seems like it's by far ...
0
votes
1answer
68 views

In what situation do you put a full-stop after an ellipsis?

In some style guides, I see this mention of putting a full-stop after an ellipsis when you are stopping the paused sentence and going onto another new sentence, but when reading several very well-...
2
votes
4answers
745 views

Spaces in the ellipsis in novels

I am having a hard time with the ellipsis. When I enter dot dot dot in Microsoft Word, it automatically makes the spaces between each dot a little longer than they would normally be. However, in so ...
1
vote
3answers
142 views

Punctuation help needed — first-time novelist [closed]

I am a first-time novelist and have finished my first novel that I hope to self-publish at the end of the year. My book is finished apart from teh punctuation questions I have. I have used guides to ...