Punctuation

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Colons Before Quotations

Colons introduce quotations that are formal or lengthy. Correct: Dickens wrote: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” (Formal quotation) Colons introduce quotations that do not begin with a “he said/she said” clause. Correct: Alexandra took the microphone: “Your honor, I object.” (Clause preceding quotation does not have a verb

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Dashes with Nonrestrictive Modifiers

Commas are normally used to set off nonrestrictive modifiers. However, nonrestrictive modifiers can be set off by dashes for emphasis or if the modifiers contain commas or other punctuation that could confuse the reader. Incorrect: Some expensive films, Heaven’s Gate, for example, have been big flops. (Relationships not clear) Correct: Some expensive films–Heaven’s Gate, for

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Colons Separating Independent Clauses

Colons may be used to separate independent clauses that are not separated by a conjunction or any other connecting word or phrase. Semicolons are normally used, but the colon adds emphasis, especially if the first clause leads into the second clause or has a parallel construction. The second clause begins with a capital letter. Correct:

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Using Parentheses

Parentheses set off material not essential to the meaning of the text. They are used for asides and explanations when the material is not essential or if it is made up of more than one sentence. Parentheses may contain a complete sentence or sentences. Example: He had to go through the usual process to get

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Colons with Appositives

Use a colon instead of a comma to introduce an appositive at the end of a sentence for emphasis. Appositives may be words, phrases, or clauses. If it is an independent clause, that clause begins with a capital letter. Correct: He was watching his favorite type of television show: a baseball game. (A comma is

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