Punctuation

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Using Dashes

A dash is a long horizontal mark twice the length of a hyphen. On most typewriters and computers dashes are represented by typing two hyphens. Dashes are emphatic. They are nearly like emphatic parentheses. To be effective, dashes, like exclamation points, should not be overused. Dashes indicate an abrupt change of thought. Sometimes they set

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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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Scientific Nomenclature

The Latin-derived scientific names are capitalized except for the specific and subspecific names. The generic, specific, and subspecific names are underlined or italicized. The names of the following are capitalized: kingdom, phylum, subphylum, class, subclass, superorder, order, suborder, superfamily, family, subfamily, tribe, genus, subgenus. The names of the following are not capitalized: superspecies, species, subspecies.

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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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