☆ Punctuation, always a challenge.

“— em dash”

Exchange for parenthesis.

Often fiction books use this to avoid the flow of words being disrupted.

  • The can (of liquid) had a label with the words hazardous in bold black letters on it.
  • –> The can—of liquid—had a label with the words hazardous in bold black letters on it.
  • My favorite colors are: red, green, and blue
  • –> My favorite colors are—red, green, and blue


He threw the pencil onto the ground—and it broke.

Disrupted thought

“The assumptions you make—”

“I’m aware of your biased thoughts, and false accusations; spare me the details, please,” John replied in a slightly irritated voice.

Self Interruption

“I believe I am going to do this—no, it’s too risky. What was I thinking,” Dave stated in a voice that began with power, and confidence; then ended in a shaky mouse like voice of defeat.

 “– en dash”

Avoid using if it causes confusion. Examples of times to not use it is with voltages, and numbers that may be negative. Also avoid using in complex descriptions: The pool will be closed from Thursday to Saturday, between the times of 3 to 5 p.m.

Replaces to, through, and

  • Please read pages 5 to 30 by tomorrow.
  • –> Please read pages 5–30
  • The planting season will be between June and December
  • –> The planting season will be between June–December
  • Parking spots 3 through to 8 will be closed for repairs.
  • –> Parking spots 3–8 will be closed for repairs.

It can be used to establish relationships.

  • She is an ex–JKT48 member.
  • The Mars–Earth return trip is not viable.
  • The Human–Earth bond is strong.
  • The calm–thinkers among us decided that the crypto-currency was a good idea.
  • The Earth–Mars trade bill became a law on May 1, 2120.

“– Hyphen”

Used to join word that might otherwise be separated. With the advent of the internet, some words that might require a hyphen, may no longer need it, as they are now commonly used in the joined form.

  • The blue-green sea
  • The over-the-horizon radar worked very well.
  • It was a special-event.
  • That dog-collar is the one I want for my pet dog.
  • That will  be twenty-four dollars.
  • It was a twelve-day cycle.

Hyphen to split a word

  • In some pay for adverts where space
  • if very limited, and so too is the column
  • width, a hyphen can come in handy to
  • make sure the text stays in the restric-
  • ted area without unnecessary space.

“: Colons”

May be used in citations. It may form part of the structure in a formal letter or email.


4:3 represents the ratio of a to b. For example width to height, oranges to apples. In cooking this often allows the recipe to be scaled to the number of guests by multiplying  or dividing the base ratios.

Cleaning often specifies 1:20 cleaning fluid to water for example. So if you have a 5L bucket then 5/20=1/4L or 250 mL cleaning fluid would be required (Some may write 250 ml).

The USA uses liter; while the international spelling is litre.

Deca or deka is 10X so 10 decalitres (10 daL) or 10 dekaliters (10 dal) is equal to 10 litres (or 10 liters in the USA); it is the only SI-prefex symbol that uses two letters “da.”

This 1 dekaliter = 1 daL = 1 dal = 10 L = 10 l. You should be consistent and use L or l.

The single letter SI-prefex symbol “d” is reserved for deci or 1/10 (0.1).

Thus a deciliter = 1 dL = 0.1 L



Used before lists

My favorite colors are: red, blue, green.

Before a description

The beaker: was filled with a foul liquid.

The robot is: shiny, and indestructible.

Before a definition

A robot: is a machine that has no intelligence, and depends on computer programs to make it work. Often a human has to intervene when the computer programming fails to function in real world situations.

Before an Explanation

I took three-days to work out that problem: because I did not have the proper tools.

Incomplete sentences

  • Friend: Why are you so happy?
  • Me: Basketball-team: won.

Incomplete sentences may also be used in places like twitter.

  • My favorite basketball team won the match
  • –> Basketball-team: won.

Syntactical deduction or description (sets)

  • He did not reply: because he had nothing more to say.
  • It moved: because there was a magnet under the table.
  • There are three things I like: dinner, desert, and coffee. (this is a set)
  • I have three sisters: Joan, Mary, and Rebecca.

Separation of a subtitle

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.

“; Semi-Colon”

Some fiction writers avoid using this.

Related Sentences

The sky was blue; it was a really cold day.

It measured 5 kilometers (5 km); with error of five-percent (5%).

In some countries a kilometer is spelt as kilometre (which is also known as the international spelling of the word). The metre is the common way to spell it except in the USA.

Measuring devices (such as ammeter, speedometer) are spelt “-meter” in all countries.

Joining two independent sentences

  • “I found this on the floor,” said Jane. “Is it yours?”
  • –> “I found this on the floor,” said Jane; “is it yours?”

“. Full Stop”

There has been some arguments that this should not be used often. This U.S.A becomes USA, and e.g. becomes eg (short for example). Check the style manual for use.

In twitter “cont.” may become “cont” in some cases to save even more space.

In twitter it can be used to create shortened words in some cases. inc. = include, feat. = featuring, and so on.

“, Comma”

Separates parts of a sentence: There was not a lot to see, the place had been a desert for as long as anyone could remember. So, it came as quite a surprise to find fossilized fish bones there.

Separate introductory phrase: Well, I never… (omitting the first word should not change the sentence); e.g., an example follows.

Abbreviations: All the equipment: i.e., sleeping bags, tent, and so on, is in the car. (i.e.: that is; e.g.: for example).

Used in lists: Red, blue, and green.

Used to separate numbers: 1,000,000

“…” Ellipsis

Hesitation, omission, being cut off in speech, a trailing off in speech.

“! Exclamation mark”

Excitement, anger, shout.

“? Question Mark”

Used to ask a question

“& ampersand”

short for and.

“° degree”

Temperature or angle.

“() parenthesis”

Used in science, possibly because the em dash might not look good with numbers and scientific equations.

“[] Brackets”

Insert non-quoted comments, modify a quote or part quote to fit larger sentence, [sic] indicates a uncorrected error,

I appreciate it. –> I appreciate it [a gift from a friend].

“{} Curly brackets, or braces”

Not used.

“⟨Chevrons⟩ or angle brackets”

In some countries they are quotation marks.


Possession: That Person’s gear, is over there. The M.P.’s privileges.

Omission: They’re = they are

Inside quotes “He said: ‘this day,’ not tomorrow.”

Not sure where this symbol belongs: `

“Quotation Marks {“a”,’b’}

Includes: {❛a❜,❝b❞}

Used for quotations: Tim was known to often say:”This is the day.”

“/ slash, stroke, solidus”

This Male/Female dormitory is low-cost. Are You Happy? (Y/N)

“\ backslash”

Not used.

“| vertical bar, pipe, broken barvertical bar, pipe, broken bar”

Not used

“@ at sign”

Known as “at.” Shoes @ the shops, $100. 1 orange @ 50 cents.

In bulk buy it may specify each item: 1000 paperclips @ 1 cent = $10

“~ tilde”

Used in twitter to indicate where a quote came from

“We are in business” ~ Jack, http://www.ace111.com

Used in twitter as a symbol in front of account name

~ @twitteraccount Hello.

“# number sign, pound, hash, octothorpe”

Used in twitter, and is known as a hash tag, or key-word.

“_ underscore, understrike”

In twitter a hash tag does not work if the words are separated, so an underscore is one way to join words #Major_Success

Join words in


angles, measures.

“* asterisk”

With the event of computer symbols, the asterisk is not used. A symbolic asterisk or star may be used.



Last edited in Jul 2015
Gharr is currently in hiatus: “I miss writing all those articles, and sharing all those great things, and ideas on the internet.” 2015

Shortened link to article: ☆ Punctuation [article]: http://wp.me/p10Tww-3pF

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