Internal Punctuation Help (page 2)

Updated on Sep 1, 2011


Information regarding the migration of Monarch butterflies can be found in Chapter 22 (pages 97–113).

In a famous study of Jane Austen (1775–1817) and her many literary accomplishments . . . (Dawson, 1989) . . .

Parentheses can be used for itemizing numbers or letters:

Please write your (1) name, (2) address, and (3) DOB.

Please write your (a) name, (b) address, and (c) DOB.

Tip: If your parenthetical comment is part of the whole sentence, do not put a period or other end mark inside the parentheses. But if the note is a complete sentence, put a punctuation mark inside the parentheses.

Parentheses are also used for providing, or defining, abbreviations.


There has been recent news from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) . . .

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has issued a new . . .

Finally, parentheses can be used to indicate an alternative form of a written term.


Before printing, carefully select the page(s) you need . . .

Write the name(s) on the form and submit.


Brackets also help to clarify information, but have a narrower range of uses than parentheses.

When you editorialize (insert comments or missing material within a quote), place the words inside brackets.


Kim said, "In order for you [Katelyn] to go [to the Monmouth Mall to see a movie], you must finish the dishes first."

If the capitalization of a word in a quote needs to be altered in order to make it fit in a sentence or paragraph scheme, place the new letter in brackets.


The New York Times article stated that "[b]aseball, an American pastime, is favored by many women as well as children."

Note that the article would have read "Baseball, an American pastime . . ." in the original source.

Italics and Underlining

When writing by hand, italicizing words is difficult so we underline them instead. In printing and word processing, we can use either one (although underscores are uncommon). Just remember to be consistent. Don't use one and then another in the same text.

Italicize (or underline) the titles of long works such as books, long poems, magazines, newspapers, or movies.


James Michener's Chesapeake James Michener's Chesapeake
The New Yorker The New Yorker
Robert Frost's Birches Robert Frost's Birches

Set off shorter works such as stories, songs, short poems, and articles with quotation marks rather than italics or underlines.

Italicize foreign words in your writing.


The handsome man said, "Ciao bella," when he left the table.

When you want to emphasize a particular word, italicize (or underline) it. The following chart shows how emphasizing different words in a sentence can change the meaning completely.

Same Sentence, Four Different Meanings

Exercises for this concept can be found at Internal Punctuation Practice

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