Punctuation Punctuation, one is taught, has a point: to keep law and order. Punctuation marks are road signs placed along the highway of our communication: to control speeds, provide directions and prevent head-on collisions. A period has the unblinking finality of a red light; the comma is a flashing yellow light that asks us to slow down; and the semicolon is a stop sign that tells us to ease gradually to a halt, before gradually starting up again. Exclamation point Use an exclamation point at the end of an emphatic declaration, interjection, or command. Example: "No!" he yelled. "Do it now!” Colon Use a colon before a list or an explanation that is preceded by a clause that can stand by itself, and after a salutation in a business letter, between the hour and minute. Example: There is only one thing left to do now: confess while you still have time. Semicolon Use a semicolon to help sort out a monster list. Example: There were citizens from Bangor, Maine; Hartford, Connecticut; Boston, Massachusetts; and Newport, Rhode Island. OR To separate closely related independent clauses. Example: My grandmother seldom goes to bed this early; she's afraid she'll miss out on something. ; Period Use a period at the end of a sentence that makes a statement or in an abbreviation. Example: Mr. Michaels went to the mall today. Question marks Use a question mark at the end of a question. Example: What did you say? Apostrophe use an apostrophe to create possessive forms, contractions, and some plurals Example: I am = I'm you are = you're she is = she's it is = it's Quotation mark Use quotation marks to set off material that represents quoted or spoken language. Put quotes around the title of a short story, essay, poem, song, magazine or newspaper.article, or book chapter. Parentheses Use parentheses to include material that you want to de-emphasize or that wouldn't normally fit into the flow of your text but you want to include nonetheless Example: Thirty-five years after his death, Robert Frost (we remember him at Kennedy's inauguration) remains America's favorite poet. () Brackets Use brackets to include explanatory words or phrases within quoted language Example: Lew Perkins, the Director of Athletic Programs, said, “Pumita Espinoza, the new soccer coach [at Notre Dame Academy] is going to be a real winner.”  Dash/Hyphen Use a dash in between compound words, numbers from twenty-one to ninety-nine, and to divide a word when you run out of room at the end of a line Example: You are 12-year-old geniuses! Slash Use a slash to indicate a choice between the words it separates Example: Using the pass/fail option backfired on her; she could've gotten an A. Underlining / Italicizing Text Use italics or underline the title of a book, play, film, television series, works of art, magazine, or newspaper.