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Punctuation

Punctuation

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Punctuation

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  1. Punctuation

  2. Full stops and ellipses The great saxophonist John Coltrane was troubled because his solos were running way too long. He couldn’t figure out how to end his improvisations. His friend Miles Davies had a suggestion. “John” he said, “put the horn down”. Patricia O’Conner

  3. Occasionally, full stops are replaced by exclamation marks or by question marks. Because all three punctuation marks fulfil the same role of ending the sentence, only one is used at a time.

  4. Full stops are not needed after: titles, in people’s names, in abbreviations or acronyms. Full stops can certainly be omitted from the following: Dr D Brown, DNA, 7 am, 160 cm, etc.

  5. Ellipses are a series of full stops that are used to indicate the omission of quoted text. For example, in the sentence The patient had a stroke …but after many months of treatment …

  6. returned to work, the ellipses replace omitted text. Such constructions would rarely be used in a journal article but may be used for quotations in reviews, letters, and other documents.

  7. Question and exclamation marks However, a question mark is not used to end indirect questions such as The patients were asked how they felt.

  8. An exclamation mark is used to indicate surprise and is almost never used in the non – emotive word of scientific writing. Because question marks and exclamations replace a full stop, they are never followed by a full stop.

  9. Colons and semicolons The main purpose of using a colon is to introduce a list, as for example in We collected data from the following four centres: Lismore, Belmont, Sydney, and Broken Hill.

  10. Colons are sometimes used in a title to introduce the study design or setting without introducing a full stop.

  11. Semicolons are used even less often than colons. Semicolons are a watered down full stop but are stronger than a comma and, as such, command a longer pause in thought. In practice, it is usually better to use a full stop and delineate

  12. ideas into sentences rather than use semicolons that tend to perpetuate long, snaky sentences.

  13. Commas Commas are used to separate parts of a sentence that can’t run together.

  14. A Comma, cordon off information that is additional to the main message of the sentences and that is therefore non – essential.

  15. It is not a good idea to use “comma splices”, that is a comma to join together two separate sentences.

  16. Either use two short sentences or join the sentences together with a conjunction rather than a comma.

  17. Commas are also used to separate adjectives when they appear as a list before a noun, for example : small,unrepresentative samples of women.

  18. Commas are not used in word clusters to describe a disease or in word clusters that form a proper noun, for example non –insulin dependent diabetes or National Nutrition Survey.

  19. One rule is to never use a comma after but, and or or when this word occurs mid – sentence.

  20. The most noticeable international difference is that Americans consistently use commas both between independent clauses and before the final item in a list. A comma before the final item in a list, which is called an

  21. “Oxford comma”, is used by some English journals also, including the BMJ.

  22. Comma • 1. Use a comma after every item in a series except the last item. Example: The ethics of contemporary surgery are often a problem for the patient, the doctor, and patient’s family.

  23. 2. Use a comma before a coordinating conjunction that joins two independent clauses. (IC, CC IC). IC CC Example: I never liked parsnips, but IC my mother made me eat them.

  24. 3. Use a comma after a dependent clause that begins a sentence. (DC, IC). Example: DC Although Harriet tried as hard as she could, IC she could not win even a fun – run.

  25. 4. Use a comma after a long phrase that begins a sentence. (Long phrase, IC.) The word long is rather vague, of course, but usually you will wish to place a comma after an introductory phrase of three or more words. Long phrase Example: Even after a grueling night of writing, I didn’t get the paper entirely finished.

  26. 5. Use commas to set off any word, phrase, or clause that interrupts the flow of the sentence. In other words, if you could set of a word or group of words with parentheses but do not wish to, then set off that word or group of words with commas. Example: John, who has the seat next to mine, laughed at me as I sat down.

  27. 6. Use commas to set off nonrestrictive clauses. My brother who is wearing a red motorcycle helmet is meaner than I am. My brother, who is wearing a red motorcycle helmet, is meaner than I am.

  28. 7. Use a comma after a conjunctive adverb unless it is the last word in the sentence.

  29. 8. Use a comma between coordinate adjectives unless they are joined by “and”. Coordinate adjectives are sets of adjectives that independently modify a noun. Example: The bulldog is noted for its wrinkled, flattened face.

  30. 9. Use a comma to set off words in direct address. Words in direct address normally are names but can be phrases used in place of names. Example: Kristina, have you washed the dishes?

  31. 10. When two phrases with the same meaning are used side by side Example: Professor Brown, the vice chancellor, will attend the meeting

  32. Apostrophes Nouns and pronouns only have an apostrophe before the final “s” when they indicate possession.

  33. The other most common use of an apostrophe is when you need to signal that some letters are missing. When the equipment is overloaded, its instrumentation signals that it’s not recording information.

  34. Clear writing is easy on the reader’s mind or clear paragraphs are easy on readers’ minds. Possessive pronouns do not have an apostrophe so that you write hers not her’s.

  35. Parentheses and square brackets Parentheses, or round brackets, are used to contain an abbreviation or acronym when it is first explained, for example In this study, we measured systolic blood pressure (SBP).

  36. If you are only using a term occasionally, it should always be used in full. It is not worth creating alphabet soup by using abbreviations that have to be remembered but that are only used once or twice.

  37. In the following sentences , parentheses are correctly used to define the size of the study centers and to contain the abbreviations:

  38. The rural towns chosen were Wagga Wagga (population 40000) and Belmont (population 20000) or In this study, we measured the prevalence of airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR), recent wheeze (wheeze in the

  39. 12 months prior to study) and atopy (a positive skin prick test to one or more inhaled allergens).

  40. Square brackets are rarely used in scientific writing. Occasionally, they may be used to include words or phrases that are added by someone other than the author of the text. For example, a copy editor may add information as follows:

  41. The pilot study was carried out in Newcastle [Australia] and the results show that there has been a significant decrease in infant mortality [turn to p. 46].

  42. Slashes, dashes, and hyphens Slashes are far too common and almost always betray a lazy thinker. Jack Lynch (www)

  43. A slash is often used when two words are related and the write does not know how they are related, or when two words can be used alternatively. In most cases, a slash can be replaced by the word or. For example, in the sentences We

  44. need to measure whether the prevalence of this illness has increased / decreased in the last five years, the slash could be replaced by or, or the cluster increased / decreased could be replaced by changed.

  45. Dashes and hyphens are described in the language of typographers as the em rule, the two – em rule and the en rule.

  46. A dash is known as an “em rule” because it is the width of an “m” and a long dash is known as a “two – em rule” because it is twice as long. The “en rule” is shorter or about half the length of an em rule

  47. A dash is usually used to replace a parenthesis or to interrupt the flow of text. If you use dashes the copy editor may decide to replace them with commas or to use a spaced en rule, whichever is the publisher’s house style.

  48. The en rule is a short dash used to join words or to mean to when joining numbers, for example as in 1972 – 1992 or May – July.

  49. Hyphens can be used safely when a word begins with “non” - such as : non-essential, non-clinical

  50. In some journals, there is a trend towards using as few hyphens as possible so that re – write is spelt rewrite, pre – school is spelt preschool and follow – up is spelt followup.