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Technical Style: Punctuation - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Technical Style: Punctuation. Unlocking the mysteries!. The punctuation you use most: commas , semi-colons ; colons :. The supporting players: hyphens - dashes -- quotation marks “ x ” parentheses ( ). Technical Style: Punctuation. Commas separate certain words. items in a series:

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Technical style punctuation l.jpg

Technical Style: Punctuation

Unlocking the mysteries!

Technical style punctuation2 l.jpg

The punctuation you use most:




The supporting players:



quotation marks“x”

parentheses( )

Technical Style: Punctuation

Commas separate certain words l.jpg
Commas separate certain words.

  • items in a series:

    • I bought onions, peppers, celery, and beans.

    • Do you have to put a comma before the final “and” in a series?

  • main clauses joined with a coordinating conjunction:

    • The data were conclusive, and the results were correct.

      The coordinating conjunctions arethese: and, yet, so, for, but.

  • coordinate adjectives:

    • The sparkling,valuable, antique crystal . . .

  • Commas mark modifying phrases l.jpg
    Commas mark modifying phrases.

    • modifying phrases and clauses (non-restrictive information):

      • The table in the corner, which had just been overturned, was set upright again.

  • introductory phrases:

    • Having searched the literature, we then set about synthesizing our material.

  • Commas indicate whether information is restrictive essential to meaning or not l.jpg
    Commas indicate whether information is restrictive (essential to meaning) or not.

    • Non-restrictive clauses are surrounded by commas (or dashes). Think of the commas as little hinges: if the enclosed phrase is cut from the sentence, would the meaning really change?

      • The three model runs, all performed on Saturday, produced varying results.

    • Restrictive information should have no surrounding commas because this info. is vital to the meaning of the sentence.

      • The three model runs performed on Saturday produced varying results.

    Why do we need commas to tell us whether a word phrase is restrictive l.jpg
    Why do we need commas to tell us whether a word/phrase is restrictive?

    • Under what circumstances should the name “Margaret” be enclosed in commas?

      • Lynn’s sister,Margaret,was impressed.

      • This is correct ONLY if Lynn has only one sister.

      • The meaning does not change if the name Margaret is taken out of the sentence (the name is non-restrictive).

      • The commas tell us Lynn has only one sister and her name is Margaret.

    What s the difference between which and that l.jpg
    What’s the difference between Which and That? restrictive?

    • He buried the evidence that was incriminating.

    • He buried the evidence, which was incriminating.

    • The presidential candidate gave an acceptance address that was a sure sign he would run an aggressive campaign.

    • The presidential candidate gave an acceptance address, which was a sure sign he would run an aggressive campaign.

    • Generally, use a comma before “which.”

    Do not do this l.jpg
    Do not do this! restrictive?

    • Don’t use a comma alone to join two independent clauses:

      • The equipment was broken,the students were refusing to come to class.

    • Don’t let one comma chop a subject off from its verb or verbs:

      • The final criterion,acceptability addresses the approval of the public.



    Punctuate these l.jpg
    Punctuate these! restrictive?

    • John who should have known better erased all the disks on the computer

    • Any employee who works overtime this week may have Friday off.

    Semi colons their most important role l.jpg
    Semi-Colons restrictive?: Their most important role

    • Link two independent clauses

      • The evidence was convincing;nevertheless, the jury found him innocent.

    • In this use, semi-colon may always be replaced by a period. Use this test!

    Semi colons l.jpg
    Semi-colons . . . restrictive?

    • Join independent clauses that either donot have a conjoining word ordo have a conjunctive adverb (transitional word).

      • Without a conjoining word:

        • The evidence was convincing; the jury found him innocent.

        • Use this form only when the conceptual link is strong enough between the two independent clauses that you need no linking word.

      • With a conjunctive adverb:

        • The evidence was convincing;nevertheless, the jury found him innocent.

    That s two independent clauses l.jpg
    That’s two restrictive?independent clauses . . .

    • Semi-colon comes before the conjunctive adverb. Comma comes after the adverb.

      • Examples of these adverbs: finally, however, moreover, similarly, therefore, thus, nevertheless

        • incorrect: The manager was late to the meeting, however the assistant was on time.

        • correct: The manager was late to the meeting; however, the assistant was on time.

    Conjunctive adverbs are not the same as subordinating adverbs l.jpg
    Conjunctive restrictive? adverbs are not the same as subordinating adverbs!

    • Subordinatingwords link parts of a sentence together by subordinating one of the clauses (or turning it into a dependent clause):

      Examples: after, although, because, since, when, while

      • incorrect: The manager was late to the meeting. Becausethe plane was late.

      • correct: The manager was late to the meeting because the plane was late.

    This is a comma splice l.jpg
    This is a comma splice. restrictive?

    • The doctor prescribed a different medication, however it’s not helping.

    • How do we correct it?


    Semi colons also l.jpg
    Semi-colons also . . . restrictive?

    • Separate elements that contain interior commas or some visual complexity (e.g., formulae):

      • I bought celery, carrots, and beans; fish, chicken, and beef; and rice and potatoes.

    Colons one main role l.jpg
    Colons: one restrictive?main role

    • Colons introduce lists:

      • Item a

      • Item b

  • Colons can also link two main clauses if the second restates, defines, or illustrates the first:

    • No one was surprised by her promotion: she was by far the best candidate.

  • Lists l.jpg
    Lists restrictive?

    • Introduce most lists with a colon. Do not use a colon between a verb or preposition and its object:

      • Wrong: The criteria were: cost, quality, and service.

      • Right: We used the following criteria: cost, quality, and service.

    • Use a complete sentence to introduce a list.

    Punctuate these18 l.jpg
    Punctuate these. restrictive?

    • Before the close of business please order the following two boxes of staples a desk blotter and a ream of copier paper.

    • We can consider competing for that project but we already have too much work.

    • No one was surprised by her promotion she was by far the best candidate.

    • Cash flow is our most pressing problem consequently Mr. Edwards will make it the focus of his speech.

    Too many bullets spoil the document l.jpg
    Too many bullets spoil the document! restrictive?

    • Blah blah blah blah

    • blah blah blah

      • blah blah

      • blah blah

        • blah blah

          • blah blah

          • blah blah

    Vertical lists l.jpg
    Vertical Lists restrictive?

    • Use bullets carefully – don’t overuse.

      • Use when all elements in list are equally important and have no special rank, sequence, or significance.

      • Consider using when listed items are long (more than one line) but are not prioritized.

    • Make a vertical list of one or two-word items only on rare occasions.

      • “The work reported here is divided into two sets of experiments, each focused on a different topic:

        • permeable membranes

        • non-permeable membranes

    Vertical lists non bulleted l.jpg
    Vertical Lists (non-bulleted) restrictive?

    • Use numbers or lowercase letters, followed by a period.

    • If each item is complete sentence, you may use period after each; otherwise, use no ending punctuation:

      The hydroponic system included the following components:

      1. a sealed reservoir

      2. an aquarium vibrator air pump

      3. an automatic household timer

    Lists within a sentence l.jpg
    Lists Within a Sentence restrictive?

    • Do not introduce list with a colon when the list is short (three or fewer items, or one-word items):

      correct:The elements in the test included zinc, lead, and tin.

    • You may use numbering to separate items within the list:

      The sequence of testing proceeded according to published standards: 1) take soil borings, 2) dry in oven, 3) analyze chemical composition.

    • Lists within sentences are not as emphatic as vertical lists. But be careful of overusing vertical lists.

    Hyphens l.jpg

    Join compound words used as modifier before a noun: restrictive?

    blue-green sea

    Join a prefix to a word:


    Join confusing units:

    six-foot lockers

    six foot-lockers

    Usually join written out fractions and numbers between twenty-one and ninety-nine

    Hyphens . . .

    Dashes l.jpg
    Dashes . . . restrictive?

    • Set off interruptions, long appositives, strong reversals:

      • The work of three researchers– Zhang, Barnett, and Liu– was particularly influential.

    • Use two hyphens to make an em dash (to distinguish it from a hyphen).

    Quotation marks l.jpg
    Quotation Marks restrictive?

    • Set off direct quotations and titles of sections or parts of a longer work:

      • He said, “I can no longer remain here.”

      • His last article, “The Influence of Uncertainty in Risk Calculations,” was published in Risk Analysis.

    • Generally, commas and periods go inside ending quotation marks; semicolons and colons go outside.

    Punctuate this l.jpg
    Punctuate this . . . restrictive?

    • He stated in his speech we will attempt to revise our quality processes.

    Parentheses the shy notation l.jpg
    Parentheses restrictive?(the shy notation)

    • Try not to use them (they only invite skipping over).

    • (Certainly, don’t put any useful information inside them.) And never put a whole sentence inside them!