Use correct punctuation#

When you use correct punctuation, you help users understand the content the first time they read it. Following are a few basic guidelines to apply:

  • Use a period at the end of sentences, even imperative ones (such as steps).

  • Use a comma before the last item in a series (known as the serial comma).

  • Use a comma to separate independent clauses, and include a coordinating conjunction (such as and).

  • Avoid using semicolons. You can almost always use a period in the place of a semicolon.

  • Don’t use a slash (/) to present a choice among, or a series of, actions or objects. Rewrite the phrase to eliminate the slash mark. Exceptions are established terms like client/server and read/write.

  • Avoid using exclamation points, question marks, ellipses, or single quotation marks in regular text. Although these punctuation marks might appear in code elements, messages, literal commands, or UIs, they’re rarely useful when writing descriptions or instructions for users. One exception is the use of question marks in FAQ topics.

For specific punctuation guidelines and examples, see Punctuation. For basic rules about punctuation, see a grammar book, such as the Harbrace College Handbook.