Quicky Punctuation Outline
1. Put a comma before a conjunction that joins two independent clauses.
i. And, but, for, or, nor, yet, so
a. But NOT if the coordinating conjunction is being used with compound
b. Do not use a comma after conjunctions ( and, but, so) at the beginning of
2. Put a comma before a conjunction in a series of three of more items.
b. Clauses, Words, and Phrases
1. Put a comma after an introductory clause, phrase, or word (except introductory
2. Put a comma before and after nonrestrictive / nonessential clauses
i. Which, who
a. NOT: that, because, before, while, if , when
3. Put a comma before and after parenthetical words, clauses and phrases.( that can be
taken out w/o affecting meaning)
4. Put a comma before and after transitional words and phrases
i. However, therefore, thus, furthermore, moreover
a. If transitional word is between 2 independent clauses, put semi colon in
front and comma after
b. Don‟t need to set off transitional word with commas if it doesn‟t interrupt
the flow of the sentence
5. Dashes and parentheses are used instead of commas: dashes are used to emphasize, and
parentheses are used to de-emphasize.
1. Put a comma between coordinating adjectives ( takes the place of and)
i. Red, white, and blue
2. Put comma between the two adjectives that both modify the noun.
3. Put a comma after dates, geographic locations, abbreviations and titles.
4. Put a comma after the lead-in to a short quotation ( but not after)
i. The court said, “…….”
5. Put commas before and after terms of direct address.
6. Put comma before and after a person‟s title.
1. Put a semicolon between two independent clauses without a conjunction
2. Put a semicolon between items in a series if the series is complicated or it one of the
items has an internal comma.
3. Put semicolon before transitional word and comma after it two independent clauses are
joined by a transitional expression like:
i. Therefore, however, furthermore, thus, indeed, in fact, as a result, for example
a. Tiger Woods is an extremely talented golfer; in fact, he may become the
greatest of all time.
1. Use a colon to introduce a series
i. But do not put a colon between a verb and its object or a preposition and its object
ii. The things after the colon must be able to stand alone as independent clauses
a. We should schedule the writing seminar in Detroit, Ann Arbor, and Grand
Rapids. ( preposition in)
2. Use a colon to introduce a long quotation.
i. He used three states of mind: “ he had to have intent to kill, to do great bodily
harm, or he knowingly created a very high risk of death or great bodily injury.”
3. Use a colon to introduce a summary or illustration.
4. Use a colon to introduce an explanation or elaboration
i. The court gave a simple explanation for its decision: the cases was on point.
5. Use a colon to introduce a block quotation.
1. To form the possessive of a singular noun add „ s
i. If it‟ll make a triple s sound – use „ only
a. Susan‟s , James‟s , boss‟s ,Jones‟s , Achilles‟, Zacharias‟
2. To form the possessive of a plural noun that doesn‟t end in s – add „s
i. Women‟s , men‟s
3. To form the possessive of a plural noun that ends in s, add an apostrophe after the s.
i. Women‟s , Joneses‟ , Clans‟
4. To make a noun that ends in S into plural first add – es , then to make it plural add „
i. James = Jameses = Jameses‟
ii. Jones = Joneses = Joneses‟
1. Use apostrophe to form a contraction
i. Can‟t, it‟s , wouldn‟t , Nat‟l , Ass‟n
2. Use apostrophe in abbreviations
3. Use apostrophe to form some plurals
i. B‟s , C.P.A.‟s , the impressionists
4. Compound elements: form the possessive with the last element listed
i. Mother-in-law‟s , Your Honors‟
5. More than one owner
i. If joint ownership add apostrophe to the last owner
a. Bruce and Tim‟s car
ii. If Individual ownership add the possessive for each
a. Jesse‟s and Mae‟s computers
a. Compound modifiers
1. Hyphenate a compound modifier , if the modifier comes before the term it modifies
i. Hard-headed boss , three-year-old child
2. Use a suspending hyphen to eliminate a repeated word in two or more compound
i. High- and low-end
3. Use a hyphen for numbers twenty-one through ninety-nine
4. Use hyphens in fractions
b. Do not hyphenate
1. Don‟t hyphenate compound modifiers if the first word ends in –ly
2. Do not hyphenate after prefixes unless the second element is capitalized or to avoid
3. Do not hyphenate foreign phrases
i. Bona fide , ex post facto
a. Use a dash to emphasize the words that follow.
1. the policy is to place liability on the person who had control of the car - the owner.
b. Use dashes to set off an abrupt break in your sentence
1. You should attend the make-up class – it‟s on punctuation rule – because you‟ll be lost
if you don‟t.
a. Set off information that is not very important with ( )
b. Used to de-emphasize
VIII. Periods, Question Marks, and exclamation points
1. Use a period to end a declarative sentence.
2. Use a period in some abbreviations
b. Question Marks
1. Use a question mark to end a direct question.
2. Do not use it to end a command or indirect question
c. Exclamation Marks
1. use to show strong emotion or surprise ; use sparingly
IX. Quotation Marks
a. 2 ways to do quotes
i. Merging the quote into the sentence by using the word “that”
a. The jury found that “the defendant was guilty”
i. If the “The” was capitalized you would change it to “[t]he
b. Lead in don‟t use comma:
i. The statute prohibits taverns from “selling…”
1. don‟t star off “ ….. with elipses “
ii. Not merged using comma
a. The jury stated, “that the defendant is guilty”
b. General Rules
1. Put quotation marks around quoted language of fewer than 50 words
2. Put singe quotation marks around quotes within quotes
3. Put other punctuation outside quote marks unless it is part of the quote