10.1.1. Full stop
The full stop is normally deleted from headings. ‘Etc.’ only needs one point if it ends a sentence. Abbreviations are followed by a point unless the last letter of the word is included (a contraction), for example, Dr, Mrs, Ltd, but Co., Art., Chap. See also Section 10.7 below and Annexes A3 and A4.
The membership of the international commission was constituted as follows: France, 4; Germany, 5; Italy, 3; United Kingdom, 1; United States, 7.
Do not use colons at the end of headings or to introduce a table or graph set in text matter. A colon can be used to divide a sentence into two parts that contrast with or balance each other. The first part, before the colon, must be a full sentence in its own right: the second need not be.
Please note that both semicolons and colons should always be typed close up to the preceding letter or figure.
10.1.4. Parentheses (round brackets)
‘I have seen charity (if charity it can be called) insult with an air of pity.’
The opening parenthesis is never preceded by a comma. If a whole sentence is within parentheses, the full point must be placed before the closing parenthesis.
10.1.5. Square brackets
‘They [the Lilliputians] rose like one man.’
Square brackets may also be used in administrative drafting to indicate optional passages or those still open to discussion.
It is not normal practice in English to use square brackets to enclose text already in parentheses; double parentheses will suffice.
10.1.6. Quotation marks
Single quotation marks should always be used, but use double quotation marks for a quotation within a quotation. If there should be yet another quotation within the second quotation it is necessary to revert to single quotation marks. (See also Section 4.2.3.)
Punctuation must be placed according to the sense; if it belongs to the quotation, it is quoted, otherwise it is not quoted.
Do not enclose titles of books, newspapers or foreign expressions in quotation marks as they are usually displayed in italic. It is not necessary to use quotation marks as well as bold or italic. (See Section 5.5.4 for use of italic and quotation marks in bibliographies.)
Be careful to distinguish between the dash and the hyphen which is smaller, and the subtraction mark, which is between the two, by leaving a space on either side of a dash. In electronic manuscripts type two hyphens to represent the dash (see Section 6.4).
The dash can replace commas or parentheses in running text as well as being an additional device to clarify involved sentences.
The dash can also be used in lists (see Section 5.7).
Continental practice also uses the ellipsis in the same way as the word ‘etc.’ is used in English. Avoid this.
They discussed the buying-in of sugar.
newly industrialised developing countries.
up-to-date statistics, long-term policies, foot-and-mouth disease,
policies in the long term,
anti-American, non-cooperative, co-responsibility levy, co-funded, self-employed;
coordination, subsection, reshuffle.
10.1.11. Question mark
Every question which expects a separate answer should be followed by a question mark. The next word should begin with a capital letter.
We should ask ourselves: will it affect EU trade, and if so, how? Can the impact be measured?
We should ask ourselves whether it will affect EU trade.
Would you please sign and return the attached form.
10.1.12. Exclamation mark
An exclamation mark is used after an exclamatory word, phrase or sentence. It may also be used within square brackets, after a quotation, to express the editor’s amusement, dissent or surprise.
6! = 6 × 5 × 4 × 3 × 2 × 1
Note that some place names containing a possessive omit the apostrophe: Earls Court, Kings Cross, while others retain it: St John’s Wood, King’s Lynn. See the Oxford writers’ dictionary for individual cases.
No apostrophe is necessary in abbreviations such as MEPs, UFOs, 1920s, or in the following: bus, cello, flu, fridge, phone, plane, teens.