Parentheses enclose material that is an interruption of the text but adds information. If the material enclosed falls at the end of a sentence, the end mark is placed outside the closing parenthesis. Use brackets to enclose additions to quoted material. These additions, made by editors or writers, usually clarify or comment on the material.
A dash indicates a break in thought or the addition of information within a sentence or at its end. A dash is typed using two hyphens (although most word-processing programs can be set up to automatically insert a dash when you type two hyphens). There is no space before or after the punc- tuation mark.
Hyphens are used to join two or more words that are used as a single unit, to join continuous numbers, to connect some prefixes and suffixes with their nouns, to divide words at the end of a line, to link two last names, and to avoid confusing or awkward word constructions.
The apostrophe is used to show possession and to form the plural of many nouns and symbols, as well as to indicate the omission of letters in contractions.
Quotation marks enclose a direct quotation, that is, the repetition of someone’s exact words. Indirect quotations do not take quotation marks. Commas and periods are always placed inside the quotation marks even if the quoted material is contained within the sentence.
Colons represent a more complete break than semicolons but not as complete a stop as a period. Colons are used to introduce a series or list only after a complete sentence.
A semicolon represents a stronger break than a comma but not as complete a stop as a period or colon. Semicolons are used to separate independent clauses in a variety of special circumstances. They also serve to group items in a series when the items contain internal punctuation.