Punctuation - Graduate Writing Center
While the semicolon can seem mysterious and intimidating, punctuation use follows precise rules, and these rules can be learned!
Broadly speaking, punctuation marks are used to demarcate structural elements in a sentence; to signal what kind of utterance a sentence is expressing (declaration, question, exclamation); to create possessive constructions and contractions; and to indicate when someone is speaking or when a source is being quoted verbatim (as well as where a quotation has been modified). All of these functions combine to help the reader understand your meaning.
There’s no need to guess whether a comma, apostrophe, or other punctuation mark fits in a sentence, and learning to use these tools correctly gives you more confidence in your writing, removes guesswork for you and your readers, and increases your credibility as a clear and technically adept writer.
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!