Periods, Exclamation Points, and Question Marks
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org if we are missing something!