University Marketing and Communications


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To utilize all available means of communication, use strategic and correct punctuation.  

  • Punctuation following italics, bold, etc., should be the same style.


  • Use accents in a person's name if that is their preferred spelling.
  • Use accents in titles of foreign works where applicable.
  • In general, use spelling variants without accents when they are listed by Merriam-Webster.
    • resume not résumé
    • a la not à la


  • In words showing joint possession, only the last word takes the possessive form.
    • secretary-treasurer's report
    • Jones and Company's product
    • John and Becky's child
  • When two or more persons possess something individually, each of their names takes the possessive form.
    • the buyer's and seller's signatures
    • the dean's and the professors' offices
  • Use an apostrophe to denote a contraction or omission of letters.
    • it is becomes it's
    • 1978 becomes (the Class of) '78 
  • Use the apostrophe to form the plural of lower-case letters and symbols. It's not necessary for capital letters and numbers, including years.
    • p's and q's
    • As and Bs (grades)
    • IOUs
    • during the 1990s
  • When a word ends with s, only add an apostrophe to the end to make it possessive.
    • Students' not students's
    • Its (possessive) not it's.
  • Year references do not need an apostrophe before the "s."
    • 1990s

Bulleted Lists

  • Depending on design, the first letter of the bulleted items may be capitalized or not; maintain consistency
  • Precede the list by a colon if introductory statement is an independent clause
  • Do not add punctuation at the end of list items
  • Full sentences in list items may or may not be punctuated; maintain consistency 


  • In lists, use a colon if the introductory statement is an independent clause.
    • There are many summer courses available:
      • accounting
      • thermodynamics
      • calculus
  • If the introductory statement is not an independent clause do not use the colon.
    • The fellows are
      • experts in their field
      • in demand across the nation
      • full of important information
  • For more on lists, see the Chicago Manual of Style

Comma, Serial Comma

  • Include the comma before "including" and "as well as." But, do not use "as well as" when "and" would suffice.
  • Macomb, Michigan, (comma as an appositive)
  • Wednesday, July 14, 2010,
  • et al (no periods, no comma if after one word)
  • In 1979, the world continued to spin on its axis.
  • Using a comma in introductory phrases is determined on a case-by-case basis depending on length, need for a pause, etc.
  • No comma before Inc., but use one before degrees or certifications listed after a name
    • Acme Co. Inc.
    • , PC
    • , MD
    • , PhD
  • Michigan Tech uses the serial comma, the second comma in this example
    • The Huskies defeated Northern, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.
  • News stories and Tech Today, which follow Associated Press style, do not use serial commas
    • Winter traditions include snow sculptures, broomball and ice bowling.


  • Use three periods with spaces before and after:
    • We had to show the way . . . That was the end of the conversation.
    • The meeting was just okay . . . the bitterness faded slowly.
    • The beginning . . . is the end.

En Dash

  • The En Dash is acceptable for design purposes, pages, and date listings, otherwise use a hyphen 
  • Use a hyphen (-) for inclusive page references unless preceded by the word from, in which case the word to must be used
    • 1998-99; 2002-04; 1999-2000, 1905-06 (note the 0 remains in years)
    • 3-11; 85-6; 113-6; 100-5; 1,002-8; 321-5; 455-501
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison; University of Minnesota-Duluth

Em Dash

  • On Windows, Alt+0151 or Ctrl+Alt+minus; on a Mac Option+Shift+hyphen
  • Use an em dash, also referred to as the dash, to precede a reference to an author following a direct quotation.
    • "I am simply a human being, more or less."—Saul Bellow, Herzog (1964)
  • Use em dashes to set off clauses that are logically and structurally independent, also for amplifying or explaining.
    • Tonight's program—a program that has won national acclaim—is underwritten . . .
    • He had a plan to win the game—a plan he hoped would work.
  • Do not use spaces on either side of the em dash in web writing or print publications but do include spaces before and after for news writing


  • For hyphenated compounds in titles capitalize only the first element in hyphenated titles of works unless the second element is a proper noun or adjective
    • Death-defying Feats by Nineteenth-century Tightrope Walkers
    • An All-American Girl: How a Non-English-speaking Immigrant Made Good
  • Do not capitalize the second element if modifying the first element or both elements constitute a single word
    • 20th-century literature
    • English-speaking people
    • first-year student
  • When used as an adjective in a title, the number following the hyphen is lowercase
    • Twenty-third Conference on Sludge
    • Twenty-first Century Literature
  • Although modern practice tends toward deleting traditional hyphens (reestablish, toolmaker), they should be retained where they are used in the original title. Only capitalization and punctuation may be altered in a title.
  • Hyphenate adjectival phrases formed of two or more words preceding the nouns modified where ambiguity might result.
    • well-known woman
    • first-class act
    • joint-stock company
    • matter-of-course attitude
    • solid-state circuit
    • land-use legislation
    • cross-cultural education
    • steady-state research
    • decision-making body
    • full-semester course
  • Use a hyphen when the meaning varies with the absence of a hyphen
    • co-op and coop
    • re-create and recreation
  • Hyphenate when the first vowel of the added word would suggest mispronunciation
    • pro-ally
    • demi-equitant
    • ante-urban
  • Do not hyphenate adjectives formed of two proper names having their own fixed meaning
    • Old Testament times
    • New York subways
  • Several words are hyphenated when they are used as an adjective, but open when used as a noun
    • decision-making skills, good at decision making
    • critical-thinking pattern, it required critical thinking
    • cutting-edge design, the design was cutting edge
    • full-time, full time
    • man-made, man made
    • on-site, on site
    • problem-solving, problem solving
  • Do not hyphenate -ly words, combinations of adverb and adjective, or adverb and participle unless ambiguity would result
    • highly developed areas
    • the fallen tree blocked the road
  • Compounds of non- words ordinarily do not require a hyphen, except when used with a proper noun. Consult Merriam-Webster's Dictionary; if the compound does not appear there, use a hyphen
    • non-alumni
    • non-civil engineering
    • nondegree-seeking student
  • Do not hyphenate prefixes when joined to roots except in a combination with words beginning with their terminal vowel or sometimes when used with a w or a y
    • biweekly
    • coauthor
    • coeducation
    • cocurricular
    • preprofessional
    • prelegal
    • postwar
    • coworker
  • Hyphenate when self forms the first element of a compound
    • self-conscious
    • self-denial


  • et al (no period)
  • PO Box in forms; PO box in text (no period)

Quotation Marks

  • Use quotation marks for articles and chapters
    • "In the Warmth of the Dome"
  • Use quotation marks for titles of unpublished matter, parts of published works, articles from journals, single episodes from radio and television series, and titles of short musical compositions when used in text.


  • Use only single spaces after the period; avoid double spaces