Punctuation

Punctuation marks are essential when you are writing. They show the reader where sentences start and finish and if they are used properly they make your writing easy to understand. This section gives practical guidance on how to use commas, semicolons, and other types of punctuation correctly, so that your writing will always be clear and effective. There are also sections which offer advice on using punctuation when writing direct speech, lists, or abbreviations.

You may find some aspects of punctuation harder to grasp than others (for example, when to use a semicolon or a colon). Clicking on each heading will take you to a page with more details and full information.

How to use a colon (:)

Those two little dots have three main uses: learn what a colon’s job is and where it can be used with our helpful guide. Can you spot how it is being used here?

How to use a comma (,)

Don’t struggle with whether or not to use an Oxford comma: our guide will teach you this, plus much more about the humble comma and its many uses.

How To Use A Full Stop/Period (.)

Don’t let your confidence in using a full stop be stopped: take a look at our guide to when this fundamental punctuation mark is needed.

How to use a hyphen (-)

Hyphens can be tricky to use, but there are three times where you should consider using them. This article shows you when to use them, and how.

How To Use An Apostrophe (’)

Many people have difficulties with using the apostrophe correctly. We're here to eliminate the uncertainty surrounding this punctuation mark.

How To Use An Em Dash (—)

Dashes are often found in informal writing, but how often should you use this punctuation?

How to use a question mark (?)

When should you use a question mark? The answer isn’t quite as simple as ‘when a question is involved’ – so we’ll take you through the rules.

How to use a semicolon (;)

Semicolons can cause some confusion, particularly if you’re not entirely sure when they should be used. Fear not! We have all your punctuation solutions.

How To Use Bullet Points (:)

Although there are no fixed rules about how to use bullet points, here are a few things you need to consider.

How to use parentheses and brackets ( ) [ ]

Round brackets and square brackets are the two main types of brackets. Read this quick guide to learn how to use them correctly.

How to use punctuation in abbreviations

If you’re not sure whether it’s ‘Mr’ or ‘Mr.’, then check out our guidelines setting out the different rules of punctuation in abbreviations.

How to use punctuation in direct speech

Does the comma go inside speech marks? Do you use single (‘) or double (“) inverted commas? The answers are all in our guide to punctuation in direct speech.

How to use punctuation in lists

Any list will need the help of punctuation to make it clear. Do you know which punctuation marks are used for lists, and how to use them?

Is it "exclamation mark" or "exclamation point" (!)?

The exclamation mark comes in handy in various situations – but are there times you should or shouldn’t use it? We explore this controversial punctuation mark.

Types Of Punctuation

Without punctuation, it would be very difficult to understand any piece of writing. Explore all common punctuation marks, from semicolons to bullet points.

What are inverted commas?

Inverted commas are used for a number of reasons, and also have different names. This guide shows you the differences between them, and how to use them.