TYPEFACE for punctuation (added here 7.14.16)
Punctuation marks should be in the same typeface as the words they follow. Parentheses (see below) are the exception.
Master woodworker Jim DuBois, left, carved the corbels.

When an asterisk and another mark of punctuation occur together, the asterisk follows the punctuation mark, with no intervening space. The lone exception is a dash; an asterisk comes before a dash.

Use the serial comma.
Do not use the serial comma before an ampersand in heds/subheds.
Beef, Pork & Chicken
Soups, Stews & Chilis

Commas and appositives
An appositive is a word or phrase that explains or amplifies another element in the sentence.
example: Master woodworker Jim DuBois carved the corbels.
In this sentence, Jim DuBois is the appositive of master woodworker.
Writers often wonder whether they should set off appositives with commas.
• When the appositive is essential to understanding the name or term it modifies, you don’t need commas. The example above has no commas because there are many master woodworkers in the world; his name is essential information.
• When the appositive offers nonessential information, you should set it off with commas.
example: Her father, master woodworker Jim DuBois, carved the corbels.
Her father has already narrowed the subject down to one person. The information between the commas gives us more information about him, but it could go away without altering the meaning or structure of the sentence.

Commas and company names (added 9/14/17)
Do not use a comma before Inc., Ltd., and other business suffixes in a company name.

Commas and compound sentences (updated 4/16/20)
Use a comma between two parts of a compound sentence if each part could stand alone as a sentence.
Mellette divided her paper into four sections, and she placed a photo in each quadrant.
If it’s a compound imperative sentence with a conjunction (and, or, but), do not use a comma unless the second verb could be misconstrued as a noun. Do use the comma when an adverb joins the two clauses (then, still).
Select a rub-on and cut it out.
Select a chipboard letter, and glue it in place. (So it doesn’t read that the maker is selecting a letter and glue.)
Set a mood with one color, then accent it with another.

Commas and dates
Use commas to set off the year in a complete date (month, day, and year).
The museum will open April 14, 2007, in Minneapolis.
When you don’t specify a day, you don’t need the commas.
The museum will open in April 2007 in Minneapolis.
The same goes for seasons. You don’t need commas to set off the year.
The museum will open in spring 2007 in Minneapolis.

Capitals after colons
If the word begins an independent clause (one that could stand on its own as a sentence), cap it. If it does not, lowercase it.
correct: The design yields a dramatic result: a dining area bathed in warm, golden-red sunlight every evening.
correct: The design yields a dramatic result: The dining area is bathed in warm, golden-red sunlight every evening.

Colons and prepositions
There’s no need for a colon between a preposition and its object, even when the object is a phone number or a Web address.
incorrect: Call our grammar hotline at: 800/472-6626.
correct: Call our grammar hotline at 800/472-6626.
incorrect: Find more great style tips at: BHGStylebook.com.
correct: Find more great style tips at BHGStylebook.com.

See Dashes.


Use ellipses (option-semicolon, with a thin space on either side) to indicate omission WITHIN quoted material. There is generally no need for ellipses at the beginning or end of a quote, because most quotes are simply snippets of longer conversations. Ellipses can be distracting, so use them sparingly. It’s often preferable to use partial quotes or paraphrase instead.
full quote: “The choice was obvious: The slate tiles, which we imported from a quaint little quarry in Micronesia, provide just the look we were after—sleek, but not cold.”
correctly edited quote: “The slate tiles … provide just the look we were after.” (It’s OK to drop the text at the beginning and end, but ellipses are needed to show that we’ve dropped text within the quote itself.)

In rare cases, ellipses may be used at the end of a quote to indicate speech that trails off.
correct:“Maybe tar wasn’t the best surface material for the patio,” Betsy said as rescue workers freed the last party guest. “It’s just that it was so economical …”


Opening and closing parentheses should always be the same type style. If the type inside is roman or a mix of italic and roman, make the parentheses roman. Italicize parentheses when the type inside them is entirely italic. Make the parentheses bold when the type inside them is entirely bold.
The two found inexpensive accessories at their favorite secondhand shops (where they scored the oversize shoe chair).
Don’t forget about dogwood (Cornus spp.), fragrant and staghorn sumac (Rhus aromatica and R. typhina), and fothergilla (Fothergilla gardenii and F. major).
Pink phlox and purple obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana) contrast with yellow and white snapdragons.

When you use parentheses, make sure the rest of the sentence—grammar, punctuation, and context—makes sense without the parenthetical information.
incorrect:Jake (and his three horticulturally inclined daughters) spend all winter dreaming up garden plans. [Subject and verb don’t agree.]
correct:Jake (and his three horticulturally inclined daughters) spends all winter dreaming up garden plans.
incorrect: This fabric repels even the toughest stains (tomato juice, red wine, blood.) [There’s no end punctuation.]
correct:This fabric repels even the toughest stains (tomato juice, red wine, blood).

Don’t use initial caps or periods for a complete sentence embedded parenthetically in another sentence.
incorrect: They desperately wanted a place for family meals (The house has no dining room.) and a media room.
correct: They desperately wanted a place for family meals (the house has no dining room) and a media room.

When a complete-sentence parenthetical falls at the end of a sentence, it’s best to break it apart.
acceptable: He’s a champion bargain hunter (his favorite trophy is a $3 armchair).
preferred: He’s a champion bargain hunter. (His favorite trophy is a $3 armchair.)

In many cases, the sentence works just as well without parentheses.
correct: Jake and his three horticulturally inclined daughters spend all winter dreaming up garden plans.
correct: This fabric repels even the toughest stains: tomato juice, red wine, blood.
correct: He’s a champion bargain hunter; his favorite trophy is a $3 armchair.


Coined words: Use quotation marks around coined words.
They used brass tacks for this “spectackular” project.
It was a “spooktacular” Halloween party.
In the context of Facebook and Pinterest, like and pin are no longer considered coined words so do not need quotation marks.

Common expressions: Do not use quotation marks for common expressions or familiar quotations and figures of speech.
The turkey, roasted for Thanksgiving dinner, was done to a turn.
They had not yet begun to fight.
He nailed him to the wall.

(Note: Use such expressions sparingly; most are trite.)

Mottos: Use quotation marks around someone’s motto. If it is within a quote, set it in italics.

Product names: Do not use quotation marks around product names, including paints, wallpapers, etc.

Single quotes: Use single quotation marks rather than double in main headlines, in sidebar headlines, and preceding niche caps.

“So-called” expressions: Quotation marks usually are not needed for words or phrases used with such words as termed, called, so-called, and known. Quotation marks are often used if so-called is omitted.
The so-called cups were made by folding leaves.
They fashioned a “cup” of folded leaves.
Vinca minor, also called periwinkle, makes a good groundcover.

Technical terms: Use quotation marks around technical terms in their first use or words with special meaning in a context that may be unfamiliar to the reader.
Over-the-counter markets all quote prices according to a system of “bid” and “asked.”

Unusual context: Use quotation marks around words used in an unusual context or to mean something other than their usual meaning.
Dusting is the only care your ceramic “pets” will need.
Too many schools “cure” their shortages by using unqualified instructors.

Also see the Titles section of the BHGStylebook.


Inside: Put the period or comma inside closing quotation marks, except in botanical names.
See Chapter 2, “Furniture Styles.”
“You get what you pay for,” as the old saying goes.
One of her favorite plants, Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’, graces the walkway.

Outside: Put the semicolon or colon outside closing quotation marks.
He made cookie “stoplights”; he put red, yellow, and green gumdrops on logs of dough.
Make cookie “stoplights”: Put red, yellow, and green gumdrops on logs of dough.

Other: Put the dash, question mark, or exclamation point inside closing quotation marks when it applies only to the quotation and outside closing quotation marks when it applies to the whole statement.
In Chapter 2—“Landscaping Your Yard”—you’ll find additional information about planting for privacy.
He asked, “Will we make our deadline?”
Didn’t he say, “We’ll make our deadline”?

To set smart quotes (curly quotation marks) as your default, see the InDesign Tip in Style on the Go, Issue 111.


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