Punctuation marks are essential when you are writing. They show the reader where sentences start and finish and if they are used properly they make your writing easy to understand. This section gives practical guidance on how to use commas, semicolons, and other types of punctuation correctly, so that your writing will always be clear and effective. There are also sections which offer advice on using punctuation when writing direct speech, lists, or abbreviations.
You may find some aspects of punctuation harder to grasp than others (for example, when to use a semicolon or a colon). Clicking on each heading will take you to a page with more details and full information.
Although there are no fixed rules about how to use bullet points, here are a few things you need to consider.
Those two little dots have three main uses: learn what a colon’s job is and where it can be used with our helpful guide. Can you spot how it is being used here?
Don’t struggle with whether or not to use an Oxford comma: our guide will teach you this, plus much more about the humble comma and its many uses.
Em dash (–)
Dashes are often found in informal writing, but how often should you use this punctuation?
Exclamation mark/Exclamation point (!)
The exclamation mark comes in handy in various situations – but are there times you should or shouldn’t use it? We explore this controversial punctuation mark.
Full Stop/Period (.)
Don’t let your confidence in using a full stop be stopped: take a look at our guide to when this fundamental punctuation mark is needed.
Hyphens can be tricky to use, but there are three times where you should consider using them. This article shows you when to use them, and how.
Inverted commas/Quotation marks
Inverted commas are used for a number of reasons, and also have different names. This guide shows you the differences between them, and how to use them.
Parentheses and brackets ( ) [ ]
Round brackets and square brackets are the two main types of brackets. Read this quick guide to learn how to use them correctly.
Which Joe gave his name to ‘sloppy joes’? We look at five interesting sandwiches and their lexical origins.
How did the orangutan get its name? What about the aardvark or the squirrel? We delve into the jungle of animal etymologies.
We take a look at several popular, though confusing, punctuation marks.
From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, discover surprising and intriguing language facts from around the globe.
The definitions of ‘buddy’ and ‘bro’ in the OED have recently been revised. We explore their history and increase in popularity.