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The Use of Punctuation Marks

If we talk or deliver a speech as one singing a song without pausing, we may not communicate effectively. So when punctuations are correctly observed and employed in the right places when writing, it creates a better understanding of the message that is passed across, as well as verbal communication. Here we shall examine common punctuation marks in our everyday written passages.

l. COMMA (,)

A. Use Commas between items that appear in a Series. Names of persons belonging to the same profession reeled out in a chain or series, should be punctuated with a comma.

Example:

(a) A bevy of Girls (with their names) Judith, Mary, Evelyn, Hassanah, Kemi were absent from the class.

(b) Members of the University Disciplinary Committee include Professor Makinde, Engineer Osakhue, Dr. John, Barrister Owushi and Mr. John Obi.

B. Use Commas with coordinating conjunctions (and, or, but, for, yet, so) that join independent clauses.

C. Use Commas between adjectives that, individually, modify the same noun e.g. Tabloids contain unreliable, titillating stories.

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D. Use Commas around parenthetical elements or interrupters.

Example:
(a) The Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria has the private collection of Sir Kashim Ibrahim.
(b) Scholarly Journals, on the other hand, require the volume number and year of publication in parentheses

E. Use Commas after long introductory Phrases or Clauses

Example:

It must however be emphasized that, unlike Paper Based Records, Electronic Records pose major challenges which are yet to be addressed by African Archival Institutions.

Other uses of Commas – in Dates, for example 5th J uly, 2008.

2. COLON (:) AND SEMICOLONS (;)

Colon is different from Semicolons as well as their uses.

A. Colons are used to introduce examples or explanations of what has been said. Colon is also used to demarcate title of articles from half-title, or, what is commonly referred to as Running Title. We also use Colon to introduce quoted passages in display form or to introduce a list of items when preceded by such formal expression as

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The lists of names are as follows:

a. Ugiosomi Finest ALIU
b. lmoshebe Danjuma ALIU
c. Onormo Sidik ALIU

Research in lnfomation Science: An African Perspective.

B. Use Semicolons (;) to separate two independent clauses, two complete thoughts that could be separated by a period (.)

Example: There is much compromise in growing up; John learns to compromise on some issues, but not all.

C. Use Semicolons in compound sentences if the clauses are long and contain Commas thhin them.

  1. PERIODS (.)

A. Use Periods to bring a sentence to an end.

B. Use Periods between related numbers. For example, to separate Act, Scene and Line Number in a play (3.2.6-8). When a Parenthesis is used, employ Period outside the Parentheses thus:( ). That is if the enclosed statement is a complete sentence. Also employ Periods at the end of a Quotation Mark.

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Example: “All that glitters is not gold”.

  1. HYPHENS

A. Hyphens are used to form compomd adjectives (Eighteenth-Century Shakespearan Plays). Hyphens are also used to denote compound nouns (anti-union activity, anti-crime Patrol, technical know-how).

B. It is advisable not to use an hyphen at the end of a line Brackets [ ]

Use Brackets within quoted materials

Use Brackets as a sign of aggregation in mathematical equations.

  1. PARENTHESES

Parentheses are used to denote the following:

A. Added elements in a sentence e.g.
(a) Personal safety (freedom from dangers of various kinds)

(b) Ethical issues (attitudes rights vs. wrong)

B. To enclose Series Heading eg. (African Writers Series)

C. When first giving an abbreviation e.g. World Health Organization (WHO)

D. With In-Text Citation e.g. Harris, John… et al. (2001).