Punctuation

Ampersands (&)

  • Used for:

    • Site navigation (e.g., menu items and page titles)

    • Headings, subheadings

    • When there's limited space, for example, in a tweet

    • Department names and for organizations that utilize ‘&’ as part of their official name 
    • Clustering disciplines that are reflected in official department names (e.g. African American & African studies). When different academic fields, majors, disciplines, or department names are brought together, use the ampersand within the official department or major's name and the word 'and' as the conjunction (e.g., rhetoric and scientific & technical communication or Departments of English and French & Italian)
  • Never use ‘&’ instead of ‘and’ in paragraph text unless it’s part of an official or proper name, degree program, a trademark, or brand. 

Apostrophe (') single quotation mark

  • For plurals ending with an ‘s’

  • Abbreviations (MD’s and PhD’s)

  • Letters used as words (p’s and q’s, N’s and W’s)

  • Use without "s" for nouns ending in ‘s’ sound (Professor Evans’, conscious’ sake)

Colon

  • The clause preceding the colon must be able to stand alone, it must contain a subject and predicate (Our location offers opportunities to supplement your experiences: internships at companies, exposure to arts, and engagement with nonprofits.)

  • Lowercase the first word following the colon unless it is a proper noun, the start of at least two complete sentences, or a direct question.

Comma

  • Inside quotation marks, but outside parenthesis and brackets

  • Use the serial comma (also called the Oxford comma), commas separating all parts in a list of things (Miller, Edison, and Thomas)

  • Dates

    • Set off a year that follows a specific date (December 12, 1979)

    • No comma for a year that follows a month or season (spring 1979)

  • Use commas after e.g., etc., and i.e.

Ellipses

  • Use "..." as opposed to ". . ." 

Em Dash (—)

  • No spaces before or after

  • Em dashes may be used Instead of parentheses or commas to set words apart as a unique idea

  • To create an em dash for Mac: ⌥ Opt + ⇧ Shift + - (em dash)

  • To create an em dash for Windows: Alt + 0151 (em dash), using the number pad

En Dash (–)

  • No space before or after

  • Prefix before compound term/open compound (pre–health sciences advising, non–self-sustaining)

  • Range of numbers, words that describe range, or open-ended range (July–October, 1934– )

  • To create an en dash for Macs: ⌥ Opt + - (en dash)

  • To create an en dash for Windows: Alt+0150 (en dash), using the number pad

Hyphen (-)

  • Consult Merriam -Webster first for hyphenations of words

  • Consult the Chicago Manual of Style hyphenation guide for hyphenation questions not answered in Merriam-Webster

  • No space before or after

  • Use hyphens with prefixes before numbers and proper nouns (sub-Saharan, pre-1950)

  • Do not add hyphens between the University of Minnesota name and a campus name (University of Minnesota Twin Cities, not University of Minnesota-Twin Cities)

Quotation Marks

  • Singles quotes/apostrophe
    • Use to show omitted letter (rock'n'roll, can't, class of '77)
    • For quotations within a quotation
    • Use without 's' for nouns ending in 's' sounds (Professor Evans' class) 
  • Double quotes
    • For direct quotes
      • Use [sic] for a quoted work misspelled or misused by the source, or for uncommon words
    • Use for a phrase used in addition to a full name (John Sargent Pillsbury, "Father of the University")
  • Block quotes
    • Do not use quotation marks for quoted words that are formatted as a block quote

Units and Quantities

  • Repeat symbol for two or more quantities (8.5” x 11”; $6–$9)

Last update: May 3, 2022