Periods, exclamation marks, and question marks - Graduate Writing Center

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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

GWC - all topics list heading

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!

A-Z content menu

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

A

abbreviations

abstracts

academic writing

acronyms

active voice

advisor, selecting and working with

apostrophes

appointment with GWC coaches, how to schedule

argument

article usage

assignments, understanding them

audience

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B

body paragraphs

brackets, square

brainstorming

building better sentences tips

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C

capitalization

citations

citation software

citation styles

clauses

clarity

clustering

coaching, about

coaching, how to schedule

colons

comma splices

commas, FANBOYS

commas, introductory

commas, list

commas, nonessential / nonrestrictive information

commas, Oxford

commas, serial

commonly confused words 

compare-and-contrast papers 

concision

conclusions

conjunctive adverbs

coordinating conjunctions

copyright and fair use

critical thinking  

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D

dangling modifiers

dashes

dependent clauses

dependent marker words

display equations

double submission of coursework

drafting

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E

editing your own work

editing: outside editors

em dash

en dash

exclamation points

executive summary

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F

FANBOYS

FAQs

first person, use of in academic writing

footnotes

fragments

free-writing

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G

gerunds

grammar

group writing

GWC appointment, how to schedule

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H

homophones

hyphens

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I

ibid.

incomplete sentences

independent clauses

introductions

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J

Joining the Academic Conversation

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L

LaTeX

library liaisons

lists, syntax of

literature reviews 

logic and analysis 

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M

making a GWC appointment

mathematics

memos

methodologies

misplaced modifiers

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N

nominalizations

note-taking

noun clusters

numbers

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O

organization

outlining

Oxford comma

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P

paragraph development 

parallelism

paraphrasing

parentheses

parts of speech

passive voice

periods

persuasion

phrases vs. clauses

plagiarism, how to avoid through citations

plain language

polishing

prepositional phrases 

prepositions

pronouns

publishing

punctuation

purpose of research

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Q

questions

quotation marks 

quoting

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R

reading with intent

redundancies                                                                

reference software

reflection papers 

research

research questions

reusing papers

reverse outlining

revision

roadmaps                                            

run-on sentences 

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S

scheduling a GWC appointment

self-citing

semicolons

sentence fragments

serial comma

signal phrases

significance

so what?

sources, engaging with / critiquing

sources, evaluating the reliability of

sources, citing

spelling

standard essay structure

STEM / technical writing 

style

subject–verb agreement

subjects, grammatical

subordinating conjunctions

summarizing

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T

technical writing

that vs. which

thesis writing

thesis advisor, selecting and working with

thesis process overview

thesis process tips

thesis proposals – common elements                                                     

thesis statements

this, that, these, those

tone, professional

topic sentences 

transitions

types of papers

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U

United States or U.S.?

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V

verbs and verb tense

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W

which vs. that

Why write?

writer’s block 

writing process

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Z

Zotero

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