Web Services

Punctuation

Apostrophes 

Bullet points

Colons

Dashes

Exclamation marks

Hyphens

Quotation marks

Semicolons

Spacing

Note: In website content, minimal punctuation is recommended. Site users will find content easier to read on screen without unnecessary punctuation (e.g. delete commas and semicolons at the end of bullet point text and delete colons at the end of headings and sub-headings).


Apostrophes

Generally, apostrophes are:

  • used to show possession, e.g. lecturer's notebook, library's books
  • used in place of missing letters (contractions), e.g. don't, won't, it's
  • used for exceptions to avoid ambiguity, e.g. mind your p's and q's
  • added when the word ends in the letter 's', e.g. lecturers' notebooks, students' books
  • not used in plurals, e.g. in the 1990s, PhDs
  • not used in degree categories, e.g. bachelors degree, masters degree
  • not used in pronouns, e.g. hers, its, yours, theirs.

Bullet points

Bullet points serve a number of functions on a web page including:

  • fixating the eye on the screen
  • making the content easier to scan
  • breaking up large sentences.

In general, bullet points should not have more than 12 items per list, anymore than this is probably justification for dividing the list into smaller lists with their own relevant headings.

The two styles of bullet point lists (i.e. incomplete sentences and complete sentences) have different punctuation styles.

Text within a dot point that is not a complete sentence:

  • starts with a lower case letter
  • has no punctuation at the end of each dot point except the last line which has a full stop.

For example: Before sending in your application:

  • answer the selection criteria
  • sign the cover sheet
  • attach a cover letter.

Text within a dot point that is a complete sentence has:

  • a capital letter at the beginning of the sentence
  • a full stop at the end of each bullet point.

For example: Your application must include two parts:

  • Each selection criteria must be at least one A4 page in length.
  • A cover letter must outline the reason you are applying for the advertised position.

Colons

Use a colon (:) to indicate the start of a list.


Dashes

There are two main types of dashes, or rules: an 'em' (—) dash and an 'en' (–) dash. An em dash is the width the width of the letter 'm' in a given font and the en dash is half that length.

Use an en (dash (not a hyphen or em dash) to indicate sequences of years, time, distance or page numbers, e.g. 1994–96, pp 477–83.

Use an em dash, or rule, with no spaces either side,  to introduce an explanation, e.g.  You need to apply—on the correct form—by the deadline.

Note: On websites, the en and em rules are often not displayed correctly. For this reason it may be preferable to use a hyphen for en and em rules in web copy.

Also refer to Hyphens.


Exclamation marks

Use exclamation marks (!) sparingly.


Hyphens

Hyphens are usually omitted, except when:

  • employing two or more words as an adjectival phrase or compund adjective, e.g. full-year unit, disease-free cattle
  • joining parts of a compound word where there are two vowels, e.g. re-enter
  • expressing fractions, e.g. one-fourth
  • nominating compass points, e.g. south-west
  • omitting the hyphen changes the meaning of the word, e.g. re-signed (signed again), resigned (relinquished)
  • following a prefix with a capital letter, e.g. un-Australian.

Frequently used hyphenated words include:

  • 18th-century clocks
  • 2,000-word essay
  • co-op
  • Deputy Vice-Chancellor
  • fee-paying students
  • full-time
  • in-house
  • in-patients
  • mature-age students
  • mid-1992
  • mid-century
  • mid-nineteenth-century event
  • mid-year
  • out-patients
  • part-time
  • post-1945
  • pre-1914
  • Pro Vice-Chancellor
  • re-enrolment
  • re-use
  • twentieth-century technology
  • two 20-year-old students
  • two third-year students
  • university-wide, university-wide  operation
  • Vice-Chancellor
  • web-based application.

The following are typically not hyphenated:

  • cooperate
  • coordinator
  • database
  • home page
  • notice board
  • offline
  • online
  • radioactive
  • textbooks
  • timeframe
  • web page
  • website
  • wellbeing
  • whiteboard
  • word processing.

Quotation marks

Use single quotes for emphasis and double quotes for speech.

In full sentences, include punctuation within the quote marks and for partial quotes, include punctuation outside. For example:

  • "UTAS strives to be a world-class university that enriches the lives of those living in this state. We work closely with both government and community to achieve that,"Professor Rathjen said.
  • Prof Rathjen said creative industries was another sector in which UTAS saw a very bright future".

Place single quotation marks round the names of articles or other short documents, but use italics for titles of booklets or books. For example:

  • a seminar paper, 'General practitioners and psychosocial problems'
  • a booklet, Planning for an New Century: Strategic Directions for the University of Tasmania in the 1990s, which was published in 1993.

Semicolons

Use semicolons (;) to separate parts of a sentence or items in a list, if commas could cause confusion. Semicolons are often misused in bullet lists. A colon (:) is the correct punctuation for use in lists.


Spacing

In general, use only one space after full stops, semicolons, and colons.