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Periods, Exclamation Points, and Question Marks


Oh my!

Use a period to

  • signal the end of an idea; just make sure it is a complete idea
  • punctuate sentences and bulleted/numbered lists; just make sure they are complete sentences and bulleted/numbered lists
  • end abbreviated words (Dr. for Doctor, St. for Street)
  • separate lowercase abbreviated letters (e.g., p., pp., et al.)
  • ensure you are correctly applying a citation style’s format

Periods relative to quotation marks:

  • Periods appear within quotation marks: He heard her sing “Somewhere over the Rainbow.”         

 

Question marks relative to other punctuation:

  • Question marks appear inside quotation marks, parentheses, or brackets only when part of the quoted or parenthetical material:
    • He asked, “Do you believe in ghosts?”
    • That dog (or is it a wolf?) is gonna be huge!
  • Question marks appear outside quotation marks when the question is not part of the sentence: Did he really ask me if “I believed in ghosts”?
    • Why didn’t he ask for the time off until today (Tuesday)?
    • “What do you suppose he had in mind,” inquired Newman, “when he said, ‘You are all greater fools than I thought’?”

 

Use an exclamation point

  • sparingly. Do not use an exclamation point in academic writing unless it already exists in a quotation.

Exclamation points relative to other punctuation

  • Exclamation points appear inside quotation marks, parentheses, or brackets when part of the quoted material:
    • He sang the Beatles’ “Help!” more than any other song.
    • The article “Midway!” posed some thoughtful points.

 

Periods, Exclamation Points, and Question Marks Links

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All-Topics Index


The following index makes searching for a specific topic easier and links to the appropriate place in the sequenced material. We think we have most of them, but please email us at writingcenter@nps.edu if we are missing something!

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A

abbreviations

abstracts

academic writing

acronyms

active voice

apostrophes

argument

article usage

assignments, understanding them

audience

 

B

body paragraphs

brainstorming

building better sentences tips

 

C

citations

citation styles

clarity

clustering

coaching sessions, about

colons

commas, FANBOYS

commas, introductory

commas, list

commas, nonessential elements

commas, Oxford

commonly confused words 

compare-and-contrast papers 

concision

conclusions

conjunctive adverbs

coordinating conjunctions

copyright and fair use

critical thinking  

 

D

dangling modifiers

dashes

dependent marker words

double submission of coursework

drafting

 

E

edit your own work

editing – outside editors

exclamation points

executive summary

 

F

FANBOYS

FAQs

footnotes

free-writing

 

G

gerunds

grammar

group writing

 

H

hyphens

 

I

ibid.

introductions

 

J

Joining the Academic Conversation

 

L

LaTeX

library liaisons 

literature reviews 

logic and analysis 

 

M

memos

methodologies

 

N

note-taking

numbers

 

O

organization

outlining

Oxford comma

 

P

paragraph development 

parallelism

paraphrasing

parts of speech

passive voice

periods

persuasion

phrases and clauses

plagiarism, how to avoid through citations

plain language

polishing

prepositional phrases 

prepositions

pronouns

punctuation

purpose of research

 

Q

questions

quotation marks 

quoting

 

R

reading with intent

redundancies                                                                

reference software

reflection papers 

research

research questions

reverse outlining 

revising passive voice into active voice

revision

roadmaps                                            

run-on sentences 

 

S

self-citing

semi-colons

subjects, grammatical

significance

so-what?

spelling

standard essay structure

STEM/technical writing 

style

subject/verb agreement

 

T

technical writing

that vs. which

thesis writing

thesis advisors

thesis process overview

thesis process tips

thesis proposals – common elements                                                     

thesis statements

tone, professional

topic sentences 

transitions

types of papers

 

U

United States or U.S.?

 

V

verbs and verb tense

 

W

which vs. that

Why write?

writer’s block 

writing process