The correct and appropriate usage of punctuation.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

0
votes
2answers
35 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
22 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 ...
9
votes
6answers
33k views

How many commas is too many?

I find myself often in writing using too many commas, but then going through and editing many of them back out again or restructuring to use full-stops. Is there a rule of thumb I've forgotten from ...
1
vote
1answer
53 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
3answers
91 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
36 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
71 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
94 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
121 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
61 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 ...
1
vote
3answers
217 views

Using acronyms in fiction writing

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 ...
0
votes
2answers
87 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
63 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 ...
8
votes
5answers
991 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 ...
2
votes
4answers
108 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
43 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-...
1
vote
3answers
84 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 ...
0
votes
2answers
32 views

Use of exclamation for the counter-intuitive

In Zinsser's "On Writing Well," he says to avoid the exclamation point altogether. I agree it's juvenile and robs the reader of their chance to feel the impact of something for themselves. However, ...
0
votes
5answers
74 views

English, Commas [closed]

According to Dr. Sharon’s book, Survival of the Sickest, a hemochromatosis patient, Aran Gordon, experienced joint pain, heart flutters, and depression. Is this a run-on sentence? If so, how can I ...
0
votes
2answers
171 views

Based on where I put a comma in a long sentence, can it confuse the readers from the way its supposed to be read?

One bad habit I have when writing sentences is that I make them too long and have to use commas. Problem: I get confused on where to put them to maintain the smooth structured balance of the sentence. ...
2
votes
2answers
47 views

How do I punctuate a statement that a character is ordered to say in a future scenario?

How do I punctuate a statement that a character is ordered to say in a future scenario? I don't want to use speech marks because its not a quote or a dialogue. My thinking may be wrong though. It's ...
0
votes
4answers
554 views

Dot after figure title?

Whether there should be a dot after a figure title (in a scientific book)? Note that I have figures numbered like "Figure 1. ..."
3
votes
3answers
728 views

How to convey newlines in tweeted poetry, if at all?

Suppose I've written a haiku as 3 consecutive lines with standard punctuation as if it was normal free text, which means I don't use special punctuation at the end of a line just because it's the end ...
5
votes
1answer
146 views

Multiple sentences in a parenthetical phrase - How do I punctuate properly?

I keep on running into this problem. I will have a parenthetical phrase (which is something set off by parentheses, rather like this, for those of you that do not know), but I need to include multiple ...
0
votes
2answers
48 views

How to correctly punctuate this dialogue?

I have some dialogue between two people (a clerk and a person called John Doe). I want the clerk to say to John: "You're John Doe. Still." So I've punctuated it like this: "You're John Doe. ...
2
votes
2answers
115 views

Which one is the correct dialogue punctuation format?

I am writing my first novel and this the very first confusion I would like to clarify. As I am not a native English speaker, I find it very hard to understand the punctuation scheme in direct speeches....
1
vote
1answer
92 views

Overabundance of punctuation, too many pauses, like this title

I have a writing style which relies heavily on pauses, specifically commas and periods. I like to put them everywhere but I am quit sure I overdo it significantly. I was wondering if there are known ...
2
votes
1answer
378 views

Am I correctly punctuating this pause?

I want to convey the pause between the "then" and the rest of the sentence. But I'm not sure a comma is the correct punctuation to use. Then, when the smoke had cleared Jane Or is an ellipsis ...
2
votes
4answers
309 views

Software to change American punctuation to British

My apologies if this is off topic. American and British writing have different punctuation styles. Is there any software that can change American style punctuation to British? I am referring to ...
2
votes
2answers
74 views

Punctuation in a list

Let's say I have a document with a list like this: aaaa bbbb cccc dddd Should I put nothing, a semicolon, a full stop or what at the end of each line? This is for an academic paper. We don't ...
4
votes
3answers
144 views

Commas at the beginning of a sentence: should I follow convention or intuition?

An example from my own writing (Mother and daughter are burying their deceased dog): As planned that Friday, Mom and I underwent Choco’s burial at my home in __ (yes, she kept him in a garbage ...
1
vote
1answer
70 views

Spaces within abbreviations, acronyms, and initials

I have come across examples supporting both spaced as well as non-spaced examples and that's what confuses me. I want to understand what the standard practice is as endorsed by any of the major style ...
7
votes
2answers
883 views

Should I be using commas to suggest/enforce cadence?

I always think of commas as indicating pauses in speech, and vice versa. So I was surprised the other day when I saw somebody's typed-out Pledge of Allegiance, which looked like this: "I pledge ...
3
votes
2answers
431 views

How to handle speech within speech?

If I'm writing a sentence such as: "I was talking to Alison the other day she said 'I like your shirt!'" Lisa commented. Here Lisa is quoting Alison, how should Alison's speech be punctuated? ...
6
votes
3answers
949 views

How to use parentheses

Parentheses have many uses; I find myself reaching for them often. Increasingly though, I realise I can convey the same meaning without parentheses with little or only minor loss in succinctness. ...
19
votes
4answers
7k views

Dashes vs. Commas vs. parentheses?

Occasionally I write sentences containing subparts with extra information. I never know how to block off this information from the rest of the sentence. Three ways I have seen are dashes, commas, and ...
0
votes
2answers
114 views

Is it acceptable to place a dash after a question mark?

Is it professionally acceptable to place a dash after a question mark in the following example? Bob: 'I don't like asking Matt but I need some help.' Peter: 'Why don't you go and ask him to help you?...
2
votes
3answers
307 views

How do I search for tick marks not smart quotes in Word?

I'm doing a proofing check of a book prior to submitting to publication and want to make sure it's as neat as possible before doing so. Recently, I've had to merge two versions of the document - from ...
5
votes
2answers
981 views

Shouting in a question

How do I express shouting in a question? In a non-question sentence, I just put an exclamation mark at the end and/or use words like "shouted"/"yelled"/etc in the "said" tag and it feels fine. But ...
3
votes
2answers
936 views

Em dash: space or no space between words

On the use of em dashes. Is it better to omit the spaces between the words and the dash, or is it preferable to separate them with spaces instead? For example: No spaces: It's time to take a nap—a ...
2
votes
1answer
61 views

Listing names with titles

Normally when listing a group of people you would simply separate each with a comma. Please send the memo to Jason, Sarah, and Courtney. However if you want to include the title of each person ...
2
votes
1answer
322 views

Proper way to punctuate “oh so slow”

What is the proper way to punctuate a phrase such as "oh so slow" or "oh so pretty"? I can't find anything in Chicago about it. I think it would be something like this: Blah blah blah happened, oh ...
0
votes
1answer
297 views

Comma between the following clauses in AP Style?

The AP style says that a comma is not needed between two clauses that have the same subject. However, it would become ambiguous if I removed the comma fromt the following: When you walk straight ...
2
votes
1answer
95 views

Trouble with punctuation and style of a sentence [closed]

I'm having so much trouble figuring this out for some reason: He raised his hands in mock surrender, warranting a raised eyebrow from Simon who proceeded to bid again anyway, setting off another ...
0
votes
5answers
1k views

Usage of commas in poetry

I wrote a piece of poetry for one of my short stories (the main character, Eri, writes poems). It's the following: Eri, did you feel the earthquake last night? Are you really sure your ...
1
vote
2answers
220 views

Using hyphen points

I read that bullet points have to be consistent when it comes to content and punctuation. For example, you can't mix full sentence bullet points with fragments. Is this true for hyphen points (if ...
4
votes
3answers
715 views

How do I organize a paragraph that lists several steps after an introduction?

I have a paragraph like below: A hypothetical solution is like this: first, we can use a table to record entries. These entries are imported from a library. . ..... Basically, this paragraph is ...
8
votes
2answers
836 views

Overuse of bullet points

I collaborate with someone who insists on making every sentence (or two) in a business document into a bullet point, by prefacing it with a bullet. This is typically done across a multi-page document,...
1
vote
1answer
943 views

How to elegantly convey the finer nuances of language in written form

I am fascinated by the idea of how to convey, in the written form, as much detail of expressive nuance as you originally intended in your head (i.e. what you hear when first coming up with it). I ...
4
votes
5answers
5k views

Using dashes in writing dialogue

Does anyone use em dashes (or two hyphens) to denote speakers in dialogue passages? Joyce does this as does William Gaddis. Many others. I practice it, but my only "conceptual understanding" is that ...