Please note that these notes apply to standard texts in emails, letters,
articles, reports, etc. Web pages and graphic listings use all sorts of systems
that depend on the wishes of the authors.
Use of capitals : use for proper nouns, place names. St. Andrews, Bill Smith,
Use of commas [ , ]: to separate clauses or insert extra information, to
indicate a list, to ‘reset’ a sentence with a conjunction or time reference at
Use of full stops (periods US) [ . ]: to end sentences, to mark abbreviations,
to indicate missing information (3 together, dots of ellipsis …).
Use of question marks [ ? ] : duh!
Use of semi colons [;]: to separate two clauses that are themselves complete
Use of colons [:]: to introduce a list, to separate two sentences with more
force than a semi colon and less than a full stop. In UK English full
stops are followed by a lower-case letter, in US English they are followed by a
Use of parentheses [( ) - -] : as commas above for extra information. Can
be indicated by brackets, or (at a pinch) hyphens.
Use of exclamation marks [!]: pretty much as you please!
Use of quotation marks [ " ' ...' " ]: - to indicate you are quoting
what has been said: 'I am the greatest', said Muhammed Ali. Can also be used to
imply that the claim is not entirely true. The so-called 'genius' just left his
mobile phone in the kitchen. Double inverted commas or single ones mean the
Use of apostrophes [ ‘ ]: to indicate possession (Peter’s pen), or to indicate
that a letter is missing (don’t = do not).