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Guide to the Marking of Written Assignments
by Ian Johnston

[This document is in the public domain and may be used, in whole or in part, by anyone, without permission and without charge, provided the source is acknowledged.  Released July 2000]


SECTION 3: BASIC PUNCTUATION


3.1 Each sentence must end with a full stop (statement or command), a question mark (direct question), or an exclamation mark (exclamation or very urgent command). Do not run sentences or main clauses together without a clear and appropriate break between the end of one main independent idea and the start of the next one. This error creates a fused sentence, a very basic punctuation error which can seriously confuse the reader.

We arrived at the scene first three hours after the accident the ambulance drove up.

This is a fused sentence, because there is no clear break between the two main ideas; the reader does not know where exactly the first idea ends and the second idea begins. Place a full stop at the end of the first complete idea.

3.2 Introductory phrases and dependent clauses before the main clause usually have a comma separating them from the independent clause to mark the start of the main idea (unless the introductory material is very short and sometimes even then). Similarly, phrases or dependent clauses which come after the main clause usually have a comma to separate them from the main clause, unless the dependent clause is restrictive (see 3.3 and 3.4)

Since it is raining, I am going back to the office, where I shall work until 7:00 p.m.

Notice in the above sentence that the introductory dependent clause (Since it is raining) has a comma between it and the start of the main idea. Similarly, there is a comma between the end of the main idea and the dependent clause which comes at the end (where I shall work until 7:00 p.m.).

3.3 Indicate non-restrictive modifiers (non-essential descriptive phrases or clauses) with two commas (or, less commonly, two dashes or two brackets). If you are not sure what a non-restrictive modifier is, read on.

A non-restrictive modifier is a phrase or a clause which adds descriptive detail to the sentence but which is not essential for the main idea of the sentence (i.e., it can be left out without affecting the main idea). A restrictive modifier, by contrast, is essential to the main idea; it cannot be removed from the sentence without affecting the meaning significantly.

The test to determine whether or not a modifier is restrictive or non-restrictive is to try removing it from the sentence. If its removal changes the meaning significantly, then the modifier is restrictive, and there should be no punctuation around it. If the removal of the modifier does not alter the main point the sentence is making, then the modifier is non-restrictive and requires punctuation around it (a comma on either side of it).

Notice the important difference in meaning between the members of each of the following pairs of sentences (which differ only by the addition of one or two commas).

I dislike all students who are lazy.
I dislike all students, who are lazy.

Men like wild animals should be kept in a cage.
Men, like wild animals, should be kept in a cage.

Repair all the old machines which are broken.
Repair all the old machines, which are broken.

In the first sentence of each pair (where there is no punctuation around the modifier) the modifier is restrictive; that is, it restricts the meaning of the word it describes to a certain group (to lazy students, to men like wild animals, and to the broken machines). In the second member of each pair (where there is punctuation around the modifier) the phrase does not restrict the meaning of the word it modifies, and so the sentence refers to all students, all men, all old machines. If one removes these non-restrictive modifiers from the second pair of each sentence, the main point of the sentence remains the same; only some additional descriptive detail is missing. One cannot remove the modifier in the first sentence of each pair without seriously affecting the meaning.

Whether a particular phrase or clause is restrictive or non-restrictive depends upon the meaning the writer wishes to convey.  Grammatically speaking, the presence or absence of punctuation does not mean that the sentence is not complete and independent.  But there can a significant change in meaning from one version to the other.

3.4 Do not put any punctuation around restrictive modifiers, that is, around phrases or clauses which are essential to the meaning of the sentence. If you are unclear about the term restrictive, read 3.3 above.

3.5 The above rules (in 3.3 and 3.4) about no punctuation around restrictive modifiers applies particularly to titles of works and to names. Names and titles are sometimes restrictive and sometimes non-restrictive, depending on the context. If the name of the work or the person is essential to the identification of what you are talking about, then the title or the name is restrictive, and there should be no punctuation around it. If the name or the title is not essential, then put commas around it.

In Ibsen's play A Doll's House. . . . (The title is restrictive here, because Ibsen wrote many plays; we need the specific title to identify which one you are talking about; thus, there is no punctuation around the title)

Prime Minister Mulroney's wife, Mila, visited. . . . (The name here is non-restrictive, unless Mulroney has many wives and we need to know which one you are talking about).

My brother Tom is visiting. (No comma here because the writer has three brothers; thus the name is essential)

My eldest brother, Tom, is visiting. (The name here is non-essential because there can only be one eldest brother; hence, the person is fully identified without the name)

3.6 The difference between two commas, two brackets, and two dashes around a non-restrictive modifier is chiefly a matter of emphasis. By far the most common format is two commas. Do not use dashes unless you want to create a special emphasis.

3.7 Phrases or clauses in apposition (i.e., which further identify or describe a noun or pronoun immediately in front of them) are non-restrictive. Punctuate them with a commas at the start and finish.

Mr. David Smith, an instructor in the Forestry Department, introduced the guest speaker, Mr. Tom Jones, Deputy Minister of Highways.

3.8 In the same way, parenthetical comments which break the flow of the idea are non-restrictive and require commas around them. Such comments are phrases like in my opinion, according to many sources, by contrast, on the other hand. Similarly, conjunctive adverbs (e.g., however, moreover, nevertheless, therefore, thus, consequently, and so on) have a comma after them when they start a clause or two commas around them if they come in the middle of a clause.

The detective's conduct, on the other hand, raises many questions.
The central section of this work, in my opinion, is a forgery.
Thus, Alexander died while still young; moreover, he left his great dream incomplete.
It is quite true, as Jones remarked, that the case is strange; it is not, however, unprecedented.

3.9 Items in a parallel list of more than two require a comma between each item in the list, including the last two.

We are studying mathematics, surveying, and English.
I will purchase a Ford, a Chevrolet, or a Volkswagen.

Do not omit the comma before the and or the or which links the last two items.

3.10 If the items in a parallel list contain commas, then you can clarify the list by using semi-colons between the separate items (rather than commas). This use of the semi-colon, however, is not common. Use it only when there might be serious confusion in the list if you use commas to separate the items.

We met Mr. Jones, the president of the company; Ms Anita Thomas, the head of personnel; and the two engineers, Jack Smythe and Alyson Krantz.

This punctuation with semi-colons makes it clear that we met four people. If the items were separated with commas here, a reader might think we met eight people.

3.11 Do not use any punctuation between the items in a list of only two, unless the two are complete and independent clauses joined by a co-ordinating conjunction. Do not put a comma between a list of two items in a sentence. For clarification of this point, see 1.30 above.

3.12 Co-ordinate adjectives, that is, adjectives in an interchangeable order, have a comma between each adjective. If the order of the adjectives is not interchangeable, then omit the commas.

He was a bearded, old, dirty, poor, starving man.
[The adjectives here are interchangeable; thus, commas are appropriate]

She was an impoverished Canadian forestry student.
[There are no commas here, because the order of adjectives is fixed]

3.13 In a list of adjectives before a noun, do not put a comma between the last adjective and the noun. Note the examples in 3.12 above. A comma between starving and man in the first example would be wrong.

3.14 When you put dates in your own sentence, separate the parts of the date with commas. If you are using dates a good deal (as in some technical writing), then decide on a suitable format to write out a date and stay consistently with that format. The most common conventions are the following:

. . . on 27 September, 1998, we arrived. . . .
. . . on Monday, 27 August, 1997, he left. . . .

Alternatively place the number after the name of the month (e.g., September 27, 1998).

In formal writing, including business letters, you should normally avoid numerical abbreviations to indicate the date (e.g., 27/9/98) or confusing six-digit numbers, especially if the arrangement is ambiguous. For example, does 7/8/98 mean 7 August or 8 July? Use a number for the day and a word for the month. Do not abbreviate the name of the month.

3.15 Avoid the suffixes -st, -nd, -rd, and -th when you write down the number of a date. Always use Arabic numerals by themselves. Do not write July 10th, or August 1st; instead use 10 July and 1 August.

3.16 Do not write the date out fully in words (e.g., July the third) or introduce the date with the definite article (the). Do not include the word of between the number and the name of the month.

We met on the fourth of July, 1986, in Montreal.
[Remove the the, -th, and the of, and write instead: We met on 4 July, 1986. . . .]

3.17 When you indicate only the month and the year, you do not need any punctuation between the two items, nor should you include the word of.

In May 1998 I began work.
[Do not write in May of 1998 or May, 1988]

The same principle applies to a combination of the season and the year.

I began studying at Malaspina in the fall 1998.

3.18 Similarly, if you need to refer to time, adopt a consistent and clear format, so that all your references to specific times are expressed in the same manner. The normal style uses a.m. and p.m. (or A.M. and P.M. or AM and PMdo not use the abbreviations am and pm, since the first one forms a distinct word; if you want to leave the periods out of the abbreviation then capitalize it).

Separate the hours and the minutes with a colon and follow the numbers immediately with a.m. or p.m., as follows: 4:35 p.m. Leave a space between the numbers and the abbreviation. In formal writing and especially in technical writing, you should never use the expressions o'clock, in the morning, or in the afternoon.

If you wish to use the twenty-four hour clock, then you may indicate the time as 1635 hr. This practice is not very common except in certain specific areas (e.g., air travel, military invasions, college timetables).

3.19 Separate the parts of an address or a geographical location with commas, when you include those details in your own sentence.

He lived at 129 Milton Street, Nanaimo, BC, for many years.

3.20 When you write out the address at the top of a business letter or on the envelope, do not put any punctuation at the end of each line.

3.21 A colon sometimes separates two main clauses where one might expect a semi-colon or a full stop. Normally this occurs only when the second main clause explains or illustrates the first one.

He was fired for only one reason: he was lazy.

3.22 A colon commonly occurs immediately before a final list, that is, a parallel list of items which stands at the end of a sentence. Such a list will usually be introduced with the words following or as follows.

We need the following supplies: two cases of beer, an opener, and six bags of chips.

There were three suspects, as follows: the butler, the cleaning woman, and the brother.

3.23 Do not put a colon in the middle of a clause; use it only when the list comes at the end of the sentence and only then if the sentence introduces the list with the words following or as follows. Observe the following points:

3.23.1 Do not put the colon immediately between the verb and its object.

We need: a radio, a cutlass, and a map.
[The colon is incorrect here. Either omit it, or put after the verb the phrase the following items: and then the list]

3.23.2 Do not put a colon immediately after a present participle.

The crew used plenty of tools, including: a pick, a peavey, and several water pumps.
[The colon after the word including is incorrect here. Either remove it, or add the phrase the following items, then a colon and the list.

3.23.3 Do not put a colon immediately after a preposition.

I needed the car for: commuting to work, driving my children to school, and delivering newspapers.
[The colon after for is incorrect here. Either get rid of it, or add the phrase for the following activities, then the colon and the list]

3.24 Note the other common uses for the colon, as follows:

3.24.1 A colon often introduces a long formal quotation, whether it is in your own sentence or set in a paragraph of its own.

In the opening paragraph, the author describes the farm so as to emphasize the loneliness of the setting: "For miles in every direction, all once could see were brown fields, without the comforting presence of another human habitation."

3.24.2 A colon separates the title from the sub-title of a book or article. Both the title and subtitle are in italics (or underlined) if the title refers to a book or in quotation marks if the title refers to an article in a journal or a chapter in a book.

"Emotion Recollected in Tranquillity: Wordsworth's Lyric Style"

Crisis in the Far East: The End of Asia's Economic Miracle?

3.24.3 The divisions between the numbers indicating the time are normally indicated by a colon, as follows: 4:35 p.m.

3.24.4 A reference to a Biblical quotation usually indicates the book, the chapter, and the verse, with a colon separating the chapter number from the verse In strict Modern Language Association format, a period replaces this colon.

In Genesis 3:12-16 (meaning Genesis, Chapter 3, verses 12 to 16)
In Genesis 3.12-16 (strict MLA format)

3.25 Put a colon after the salutation at the beginning of a business letter (not a comma). It is now becoming quite common for the writer to omit any punctuation after the salutation.

Dear Ms Jackson: or Dear Ms Jackson (but not Dear Ms Jackson,)

3.26 Avoid using colons at the very end of a heading in a technical report or at the end of the chapter or section heading in an essay or research paper.

3.27 A dash is not a very frequent punctuation mark, and you should use it, if at all, quite rarely. Its main function is to set off non-restrictive modifiers when a pair of commas might be too confusing or not sufficiently emphatic. Usually a pair of brackets is preferable to a pair of dashes.

The ingredients of the true hot dogbun, wiener, relish, mustard, onion, and ketchupwere not available.

Brackets would be just as good in the above sentence, probably better. Commas would make the list somewhat muddled.

3.28 Notice that when you are typing or using a word processor, you indicate a dash with a double hyphen (--), so that the reader does not confuse the dash with the hyphen. There are no spaces between the dash and the words on either side of it. Many word processing programs will convert a double hyphen into a long dash automatically (), as in this text (that form is acceptable).

3.29 A pair of brackets commonly indicates non-essential or additional explanatory material in the middle of a clause. Like a pair of commas or a pair of dashes, the pair of brackets tells the reader that this material is non-restrictive or non-essential for the main idea of the clause.

3.30 Make sure you always use brackets in pairs. Otherwise the reader is easily confused about where the inserted material is supposed to begin or end. Follow this principle if you are putting heading numbers in brackets. Do not write 1) Heading; complete the brackets, as follows: (1) Heading.

Notice that when you use numbers in brackets to indicate headings or the items in a numbered list, it is customary not to have any full stops after the number.

3.31 To indicate brackets, use the traditional vertical arcs: ( ). If you want to use brackets inside a pair of brackets, then the change the form of the interior pair to square brackets: [ ].

The cost of the projects will be ten million dollars (this estimate comes from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education [OISE]).

You should rarely need brackets within brackets, but if you do, make sure you do not confuse the reader by using the same form (vertical arcs) for both sets. Note that the square brackets inside a quotation have a special significance. See 3.54 below.

3.32 Be careful to avoid unnecessary or inappropriate punctuation. The following points indicate some of the more common forms of this problem not specifically mentioned elsewhere.

3.32.1 Do not insert a single comma into the middle of a clause (between the subject and the verb or between the verb and its object), unless there is a specific requirement for it. Normally you will need to insert a pair of commas, rather than just one.

The frequency of urban crime, is an urgent concern.
[The comma is incorrect here, since it breaks the continuity between the subject and the verb]

3.32.2 Do not put a comma after a verb of speaking unless you are indicating a direct quotation.

She said, "I killed the victim."
She said that she killed the victim.

These sentences are correct. Avoid something like the following: She said, that she killed the victim. Since you are not quoting directly, the clause that she killed the victim is the direct object of the verb said, and there should be no punctuation between the verb and the object.

3.32.3 Do not use a semi-colon except to separate two independent clauses in a compound sentence or in a long list in which each item contains commas (see 3.10 above). Remember that in almost all cases the semi-colon has the same function as a full stop, so you should not use it except where a full stop would be equally correct (i.e., you would not create a fragment).

Never use the semi-colon to separate unequal parts of a sentence, especially to separate a subordinate clause from a main clause.

Although he loves Nora; Torvald does not understand her.

The semi-colon is incorrect here, since the two parts of the sentence are not equal. Note that if you replace the semi-colon with a full stop (the test of whether or not a semi-colon is appropriate in a particular place), you will create a fragment in the first part of the sentence. To correct the mistake, replace the semi-colon above with a comma (see 3.2 above).

3.33 Quotation marks usually indicate to the reader that your sentence contains material written or spoken by someone else. The double quotation marks indicate the beginning and end of the borrowed material. Normally a comma or a colon precedes the quoted material if you include the borrowed material in your own sentence, unless the quotation is very short.

The text book states clearly: "Slash burning is not always the best method of site preparation."

T. S. Eliot coined the term "objective correlative."

3.34 At the end of a quotation in your own sentence put the punctuation mark which you need for your own sentence. If your sentence ends with the quotation then put in a full stop (inside the closing double quotation mark). If you need a comma, then provide it. If necessary get rid of the last punctuation mark in the original quotation. But don't end a quotation with a double punctuation mark, once from the original text you are quoting from and one for your own sentence. Notice the following incorrect punctuation.

I like the remark "Give me liberty, or give me death.", but I think it's a dangerous principle.

Since your sentence continues beyond the end of the quotation, get rid of the full stop at the end of the quotation above, even though that is what occurs in the original text. Your sentence requires a comma.

I like the remark "Give me liberty, or give me death," but I think it's a dangerous principle.

If the quoted passage ends with a question mark or an exclamation mark, then keep it in the quotation, whether or not your sentence comes to an end. If your sentence does come to an end at the conclusion of the quotation in such a case, then do not add a second punctuation mark to indicate the end of your sentence. Notice the following examples

The opening line of Hamlet is "Who's there?" The line is significant.

When she called out "Who's there?" I did not answer.

Archimedes cried out "Eureka!" when he had solved the problem.

3.35 Inside the double quotation marks always observe exactly the punctuation, capitalization, and language of the original text. Do not change anything, except at the very end. Notice that at the end of a quotation, commas and full stops come before the final quotation mark; semi-colons and colons come after the final quotation mark. The question mark comes inside if the quotation is a question and outside if the quotation is not a question but the entire sentence is. Notice the following examples.

She asked me, "Why were you late?"
[The question mark is inside the quotation because the quotation is a question, but the total sentence is not.]

Is Shakespeare the origin of the question, "What's in a name?"
[Here the entire sentence is a question, and so is the quotation. The question mark (part of the original text) stays inside the quotation marks, and there is no additional question mark to indicate that the entire sentence is a question.]

What does Eliot mean by his phrase "objective correlative"?
[Here the question mark is outside the final double quotation mark because the entire sentence is a question, but the quotation is not.]

Shakespeare did not write "To err is human; to forgive divine"; Alexander Pope did.
[The semi-colon at the end of the quotation comes after the closing quotation marks.]

The best known Canadian slogan is "From sea to shining sea," according to the dictionary.
[The comma at the end of the quotation comes inside the closing double quotation mark.]

In this passage the words "shining," "cold," "vibrant," and "glittering" have special importance.
[Notice in this list of quoted words that each word is punctuated with its own pair of quotation marks and that the commas separating them come inside the closing quotation marks.

3.36 Short quotations like those immediately above usually have no punctuation before them. Longer quotations usually have a comma or a colon immediately before the quotation.

Werner Sombart in 1904 delivered his judgement on American socialism: "All socialist utopias come to nothing on roast beef and apple pie."

The words of the original instructions state clearly: "No unauthorized personnel shall have access to this program."

3.37 If you interrupt a quotation to indicate a speaker, then observe carefully the appropriate punctuation. Consider the following examples.

"The Vietnam War," said S. Jones, "transformed our understanding of warfare."

In the above sentence, the interruption in the quotation is treated as a parenthetic insertion with a pair of commas. The quotation is, in effect, a single sentence with an interruption in the middle.

"The Vietnam War transformed our understanding of warfare," said S. Jones. "Now it is difficult for citizens to have absolute faith in the American military."

Here there is a comma separating the first sentence of the quotation from the interruption (which indicates the speaker). But after the interruption there is a full stop, because the quotation continues at the beginning of a new sentence.

3.38 When you are quoting short passages of prose or poetry (three lines or less), use double quotation marks, and set the quotation within your own paragraph.

Alice Baird, reflecting on this point, makes the following observation: "In retrospect, Alexander the Great's dream for a cultural and political union of east and west seems hopelessly ambitious." This view is worth exploring.

In such a short quotation, do not set the quoted material in a separate block of its own.

3.39 If you are quoting a passage of poetry or prose longer than three lines, then set it in its own block, indenting the left margin, and without quotation marks. If you are double spacing your writing, then double space the quotation. Notice the following example.

In his report on the state of English studies in the universities, Dr. Ponting made the following observations.

For the past forty years or more there has been a significant decline in the quality of academic publication. We have witnessed an enormous increase in quantity, but the vast majority of scholarly publications are incomprehensible even to the well educated lay person. We all recognize this change, and yet we do nothing effective to correct the situation which has created it. Instead we continue to insist that all academic faculty must contribute even more material, without regard to its quality.

This observation is worth pondering in detail.

The indentation on the left-hand side is the reader's signal that she is now reading a quotation from some other writer. When you resume your normal margins, the reader now assumes she is reading your material once again. You do not need the quotation marks around the quoted material (unless there are quotation marks in this section of the original text which you are quoting).

3.40 If you are double spacing your own text, you should double space the quotations. The indentation should normally be one tab space. The right hand margin of a prose quotation remains the same as the right-hand margin of your own paragraphs. And do not change the font for quotations (e.g., to italics). Keep to the same style of font as you are using for your own paragraphs.

3.41 Make sure your own sentence comes to a natural ending before you start a long quotation in its own block. Thus, after the quotation you should be starting a new sentence in your own paragraph. Do not break a sentence of your own with a long quotation.

3.42 When you are quoting a short selection of poetry (three lines or less) in your own sentence, indicate the line endings with a solidus or slash (/). Leave a space after the solidus.

My favourite limerick begins as follows: "An Italian who loved fettucini/ Fed tons to his hungry bambini./ But they knew the score. . . ." I cannot remember the rest.

3.43 With more than three lines of poetry, set the quotation in a separate block, without quotation marks, following as closely as possible the format of the original text (including the spelling, the arrangement of lines, and the punctuation). Follow the usual practice of indenting the poem one tab space from the left-hand margin. Double space the quotation.

3.44 When you set a selection of poetry in its own paragraph, do not use the solidus or slash (/) to indicate the line endings. They will be clear from the format of the quotation.

3.45 Do not use the solidus or slash (/) to indicate line endings in prose quotations, either for quotations in your sentence or in their own blocks. In prose quotations set in their own blocks you do not have to follow the original lineation of the text from which you are taking the material. However, the prose quotation must be indented and double spaced in the usual way and observe the same right hand margin as the main text of the paper.

3.46 Check the accuracy of all quotations very carefully. Do not misquote. The words and the punctuation must appear exactly as they do in the original text (but see point 3.34 about end punctuation).

3.47 Double quotation marks also draw attention to an unusual or non-standard word or phrase., e.g. The job was a real "ballbreaker."

This use of double quotation marks is not very frequent in formal prose. You should not employ quotation marks to justify filling your prose with slang. Use quotation marks in this way only for a very special effect (and very rarely).

3.48 If you want to leave a few words out from the middle of a sentence in a quotation because the material is irrelevant to the point you are making, you may indicate the omission with three dots (an ellipsis or gap).

In this regard one critic has written, "Homer heard in the original Greek . . . is like the rarest of wines."

Notice how the writer sets up in normal typing and word processing the appropriate spacing: a single space between the dots and between the dots and the words (not just three consecutive dots with no spacing). Observe the same spacing. This ellipsis mark indicates that you have left a few words out of the original but are still quoting from the same sentence.

3.49 When you wish to omit from a quotation some words that come at the end of a sentence in the original (that is, to stop the quotation before the end of the sentence in the original) or if you wish to omit a complete sentence from the quotation, then use four dots, a period and three spaced dots.

In this connection, Brunke has commented, "The death of Alexander the Great raises many difficulties for the historian. . . . The evidence is unreliable and contradictory. . . . "

The four dots in the middle of the quotation indicate that the writer has omitted some material from the end of the sentence or an intervening sentence in the original text. The four dots at the end indicate that the quotation ends before the sentence in the original does. Note the spacing of these dots: none between the last word and the first period and a single space between each of the periods. Observe this spacing carefully.

3.50 Use these ellipsis marks (the periods) intelligently when you want to omit from a quotation something you do not need to make the point. Do not use them as a convenient shorthand to save yourself the trouble of writing out the quotation in full. What you omit from the quotation should be irrelevant to your purpose in introducing the quotation.

Do not use the ellipsis marks to indicate very large omissions. If you are quoting two or more parts significantly separated from each other in the original, then offer them as two or more separate quotations. Do not, for example, write something like the following:

Particularly significant in this respect are the following phrases "vegetation rioted . . . mob of island . . . lost your way."

Since these phrases occur in separate sentences and quite far apart in the original, offer them as three separate short quotations:

Particularly significant in this respect are the following phrases: "vegetation rioted," "mob of islands," and "lost your way."

Note carefully the punctuation of this list of short quotations, especially the relationship between the commas and the closing quotation marks.

3.51 If you are quoting a selection of verse in its own block and wish to leave out a few lines, then indicate the omission with a row of spaced full stops across the length of the line, as follows:

If music be the food of love, play on,
Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.
That strain again! It had a dying fall;
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
So full of shapes is fancy
That it alone is high fantastical.

Normally, you should use this technique only if the omission is quite short. If you wish to leave out a substantial amount (more than a couple of lines), then present the two sections as two separate quotations with a space between them.

3.52 Make sure that the quotations you offer make sense. In other words, write out enough of them so that the meaning of your sentence is clear and complete. Be particularly careful when you are setting up the quotation as an example.

Sally evidently is a good housekeeper. For example, the first descriptions of the house "the kitchen clean as a whistle . . . and the polished floor."

The example here (the second sentence) is a fragment (see 1.3). You will therefore have to change it so as to avoid the fragment.

3.53 Do not introduce a short quotation in your own sentence with ellipsis marks (the series of full stops). If you start a longer quotation in its own paragraph in the middle of a sentence from the original (not a very common practice), then start the quotation with the ellipsis marks (three consecutive full stops with spaces between them):

In a useful remark, Samson describes Confucius's difficulties:

. . . he tried all his life to win for himself a political position which would enable him to put into effect the administrative practices he had spent his entire lifetime teaching. But suitable opportunities in the complex bureaucratic world of imperial administration were not easy to find. . . .

The three periods at the start of this quotation indicate that you are beginning the quotation in the middle of a sentence from the original. Notice that you still follow the usual spacing, with a space between each full stop and between the third period and the first word.

3.54 If you wish to put a comment of your own into the middle of a quotation, use square brackets. Normally you will do this only to clarify a pronoun or to remind the reader that a mistake in the quotation belongs to the original and is not a misprint of your own.

Stein writes, "[Homer] is incredably [sic] long winded."

Stein originally wrote "he," but you want the reader to understand who is being discussed, so you put Homer's name into the quotation. The square brackets indicate the change. The [sic] indicates to the reader that the misspelling in "incredably" is in the original text, not your mistake.

3.55 If you decide to emphasize part of a quotation by putting that section in italics or underlining it, then you must indicate to the reader that you have changed the original. The normal way to carry this out is to add immediately after the quotation the parenthetical comment emphasis added, as in the following example:

The report published by the government ten years ago stressed that "this part of the coast should never again under any circumstances be an active logging site" (34, emphasis added).

The brackets after the quotation indicate the page reference and alert the reader to the fact that the quotation has been changed to emphasize a particular part of it.

3.56 Do not use the square brackets to change quotations unnecessarily, for example, by changing the verbs or the pronouns. Leave the original unchanged, except for the rare cases mentioned above in 3.54. and 3.55.

3.57 The single quotation marks indicate a quotation with a quotation. This is the only common use of this punctuation mark.

Crane comments as follows: "Steinbeck's short story 'The Chrysanthemums' explores the relationships between men and women."

3.58 When the single and double quotation marks both come at the end of quotation, include them both.

Hart observes that "Updike's favourite story is 'A & P.'"

3.59 Do not use single quotation marks where double quotation marks are customary. Confine your use of single quotation marks to those rare occasions when you have to indicate a quotation or a title within a quotation or a title within a title.

3.60 When you are setting up a block quotation from a play, indicate the speakers' names. Notice the following format:

The opening lines of Hamlet are really interesting.

BERNADO. Who's there?

FRANCISCO. Nay, answer me. Stand and unfold yourself.

BERNADO. Long live the King!

Notice that if the quoted words involve more than one line, indent all lines after the first, as follows:

Later in the play we witness this exchange:

QUEEN. What have I done that thou dar'st wag thy tongue
In noise so rude against me?

HAMLET. Such an act
That blurs the grace and blush of modesty;
Calls virtue hypocrite; takes off the rose
From the fair forehead of an innocent love,
And sets a blister there. . . .

There are a number of interesting things to observe in the language here.

Remember that in quotations of poetry you observe the exact lineation of the original; in prose quotations, you take the quotation over to your right hand margin, ignoring the exact lineation in the original.

You do not need to indicate the name if there is only one speaker (instead make the identity of the speaker clear in your lead into the quotation).

 


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