Do not use:
- primes (apostrophe and quotes) to designate inches and feet and navigational/degree
notation; e.g.: 12 inches not 12"; 67 degrees not 67°
- when making the plural; e.g., 1980s
Commas, Semicolons, Colons
- Place a comma after digits signifying thousands, except when reference is made to
temperature or to SAT scores
Correct: 1,150 students, but 1100 degrees and an SAT score of 1143
- Use a colon to introduce a list of items.
Correct: The following books are required: Emma, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights,
- When listing city names with states, use the state abbreviation followed by a period
and comma unless at the end of a sentence; with the exception of eight states which
should be spelled out: Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas and Utah; e.g.:
Correct: Robert Green is a San Antonio, Texas, native.
Correct: Clara Temple comes from Kansas City, Mo.
- When writing a date, place a comma before and after the year and after days when used
with a date; e.g.: July 4, 1980, was a special day. Tuesday, July 6, had cloudy skies.
- Do not place a comma between the month and year when the day is not mentioned; e.g.:
- Do not use a comma before the words and and or in a series; e.g.: The Cardinals,
the cheerleaders, the pep squad and the booster club will meet the day before the
tournament. However, place a comma before the concluding conjunction in a series if
an integral element of the series requires a conjunction; e.g.: The departments of
English, history, modern languages, and government and international affairs participated
in the conference.
- If a phrase is within parentheses at the end of a sentence, place the period after
the closing parenthesis.
- If a complete sentence is in parentheses, the period should be inside the closing
Use an em (--) dash:
- To set apart a phrase for emphasis, with space before and after; e.g.;
- He brought several items – tape, pens, paper and staples – in case they were needed.
Use an en (-) dash:
- To indicate span of time; e.g.: May 16 - June 10; or 1 - 3 p.m.
- When hyphenating words; e.g.: all-student party
An ellipsis is a string of three periods with a space before and after to denote
continuation on an idea;
Correct: The audience applauded, then there was silence ... and suddenly music started
- Do not hyphenate the words vice president and words beginning with non or ultra, except
those containing a proper noun; e.g., non-German; nontechnical.
- Do not place a hyphen between the prefixes pre, post, semi, anti, multi, re, un, sub,
etc., and their nouns or adjectives, except before proper nouns or when two vowels
with no hyphen separating them would be unclear; e.g.:
electro-optical but preindustrial pro-American
Exception is pre when used before law or med, as in pre-law or pre-med. Also,
use a hyphen
when coining a phrase; e.g.: pro-peace.
- Avoid hyphenating words unless their meaning is unclear without a hyphen; e.g.:
postgraduate not post-graduate
strong-willed not strongwilled
- Use a hyphen to connect compound modifiers used to describe things; e.g.:
- No hyphen is needed when using compound words that have become commonplace as one
word; e.g.: website, healthcare, troubleshoot
- Numbers below 100 should be hyphenated when they consist of two words and are used
at the beginning of a sentence; e.g.: Thirty-nine
Apply italics to:
• Foreign words or phrases not commonly understood or used in American English; unless
part of a proper noun or formal name such as a location name, composition title, for
instance. Well known foreign words take no italics.
Correct: “Thank you,” I said. “Selv tak,” she replied.
Correct: kimchee, pho and merci
• Latin names
• Scientific names; e.g.: canis familiaris
• To emphasize words and phrases; e.g.: The time to start planning is now.
• Titles of books, plays, movies, radio and television programs, musical compositions,
operas, pamphlets, periodicals, etc.
• Translated words in copy
Correct: The project was named Recomencar, or restart in English.
Do not italicize the Bible or title of books that are primarily catalogs of reference
Apply quotation marks to essays, lectures, and parts of volumes, chapters, titles
of papers, etc.
• Use single quotation marks for quotations printed within other quotations.
• If several paragraphs are to be quoted, use open-quote marks at the beginning of
each paragraph, but use close-quote marks only at the end of the final paragraph.
• Set quotation marks after periods and commas and before colons and semicolons.
• Use editor's brackets, not parentheses, to set off editorial remarks within direct
quotations; e.g.: "Jacobs saw it [the movie] and was moved by the story."
• Do not place quotation marks around the Bible or books that are primarily catalogs
of reference material.