37 posts categorized "Punctuation"

August 15, 2016

Periods in Reference List Entries

Chelsea blog 2
by Chelsea Lee

APA Style references have four parts: author, date, title, and source, and these parts are separated by periods. This example of a book reference shows the pattern (the periods are highlighted to help you see them):

Author, A. (2017). Title of book. Publisher Location: Publisher Name.

Some cases can cause some confusion, however, such as group authors, screen names, and titles ending in punctuation such as question marks. Read on to learn how to handle reference punctuation in those cases.

Group Authors

When the author of a work is a group, add a period after the group name to end the author portion of the reference.

Community Preventive Services Task Force. (2015). Clinical decision support systems recommended to prevent cardiovascular disease. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 49, 796–799. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2015.03.041

Screen Names

When a user has a screen name as well as a real name (as with many social media references), put a period after the closing brackets that enclose the screen name (but do not put a period between the real name and the screen name).

Stanford Medicine [SUMedicine]. (2012, October 9). Animal study shows sleeping brain behaves as if it's remembering: http://stan.md/RrqyEt #sleep #neuroscience #research [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/SUMedicine/status/255644688630046720

Titles Ending in Punctuation

When the title of a work ends with a punctuation mark, such as a question mark or exclamation point, this punctuation mark takes the place of the period that would otherwise be added at the end of the title.

Millon, T. (2016). What is a personality disorder? Journal of Personality Disorders, 30, 289–306. http://dx.doi.org/10.1521/pedi.2016.30.3.289

References Ending in a DOI or URL

One case where you should never add a period is after a DOI or URL. This is to prevent the impression that the period is part of the DOI or URL (which would then prevent it from working).

Do you have other reference-punctuation questions? Leave them as a comment below.

Puzzle pieces

July 01, 2015

Punctuation Junction: Punctuation Before Quotation Marks

Chelsea blog 2
by Chelsea Lee

Punctuation Junction: A series about what happens when punctuation marks collide.

We have previously addressed how to use single and double quotation marks to enclose a quotation, and today we expand upon that topic to address how to use punctuation before a quotation. A few principles are at work here:

  1. To identify the speaker of a quotation before the quotation appears, put a comma after the speaking-related verb (said, replied, stated, wrote, etc.).
    • Correct: Koval, vanDellen, Fitzsimons, and Ranby (2015) stated, “Although many factors likely predict who is asked to do what (e.g., collegiality; cooking skills), the current research suggests that one robust predictor of being relied on is being high in self-control” (p. 763).
    • Incorrect: Koval, vanDellen, Fitzsimons, and Ranby (2015) stated “Although many factors likely predict who is asked to do what (e.g., collegiality; cooking skills), the current research suggests that one robust predictor of being relied on is being high in self-control” (p. 763).
  1. To present a quotation after a complete sentence (e.g., those ending in thus or as follows), put a colon after the introductory sentence and before the quotation marks. Start the quotation that follows with a capital letter if the quotation itself is a full sentence; start the quotation with a lowercase letter if it is a sentence fragment.
    • Correct: Although some people believe tasks are easier for individuals with high self-control, the research has indicated as follows: “Participants actually working on the task found it equally difficult and draining, regardless of their own self-control” (Koval et al., 2015, p. 763).
    • Incorrect: Although some people believe tasks are easier for individuals with high self-control, the research has indicated as follows, “Participants actually working on the task found it equally difficult and draining, regardless of their own self-control” (Koval et al., 2015, p. 763).
  1. For other scenarios, punctuate according to the grammar of the sentence, as though the quotation marks were not there. This means sometimes no punctuation is required before quotation marks. 
    • Correct: Koval et al. (2015) found that “individuals with high self-control may feel tired, annoyed, and perhaps even resentful of the fact that others ask and expect more of them” (p. 763).
    • Incorrect: Koval et al. (2015) found that, “individuals with high self-control may feel tired, annoyed, and perhaps even resentful of the fact that others ask and expect more of them” (p. 763).

Do you have other questions related to using punctuation before quotation marks? Leave a comment below.

Balloon and net

Source:

Koval, C. Z., vanDellen, M. R., Fitzsimons, G. M., & Ranby, K. W. (2015). The burden of responsibility: Interpersonal costs of high self-control. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 108, 750–766. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/pspi0000015

May 27, 2015

Punctuation Junction: Quotation Marks and Ellipses

Chelsea blog 2by Chelsea Lee

A series about what happens when punctuation marks collide.

In APA Style, double quotation marks are used to enclose

quoted material, and an ellipsis is a set of three spaced periods used to show that material has been omitted from a quotation. Here are three ways to use them in combination:

An Ellipsis at the Beginning or End of a Quotation  Quote ellipsis bubble

In general, it is not necessary to use an ellipsis at the beginning or end of a quotation, even if you are quoting from the middle of a sentence. An exception is that you should include an ellipsis if, to prevent misinterpretation, you need to emphasize that the quotation begins or ends in midsentence. However, it is not usually necessary to do this. Here’s an example from an article about high-performing or “star” employees:

Original sentence: “Stars have disproportionately high and prolonged performance, visibility, and relevant social capital, and there are minimum thresholds for each that must be attained to be a star.”

Correct use: One theory of exceptional employee behavior posits that star employees “have disproportionately high and prolonged performance, visibility, and relevant social capital” (Call, Nyberg, & Thatcher, 2015, p. 630).

Incorrect use: One theory of exceptional employee behavior posits that star employees “. . . have disproportionately high and prolonged performance, visibility, and relevant social capital. . .” (Call, Nyberg, & Thatcher, 2015, p. 630).

An Ellipsis in the Middle of a Quotation

Use an ellipsis in the middle of a quotation to indicate that you have omitted material from the original sentence, which you might do when it includes a digression not germane to your point. However, take care when omitting material to preserve the original meaning of the sentence.

When quoting, you can also change the first letter of the quotation to be capitalized or lowercase depending on what is needed for the grammar of the sentence in your paper. Here is an example showing both proper use of an ellipsis and a change in capitalization of the first letter:

Original sentence: “Some industries have formal rankings that broadcast the best and brightest workers (e.g., analyst rankings in Institutional Investor), and some organizations provide companywide performance results and publicly recognize top performers.”

Correct use: To make a high-performing employee visible to the community, “some industries have formal rankings that broadcast the best and brightest workers . . ., and some organizations provide companywide performance results and publicly recognize top performers” (Call et al., 2015, p. 629).

Incorrect use: To make a high-performing employee visible to the community, “Some industries have formal rankings that broadcast the best and brightest workers, and some organizations provide companywide performance results and publicly recognize top performers” (Call et al., 2015, p. 629).

An Ellipsis for a Quotation Spanning Multiple Sentences

A longer quotation might span multiple sentences. Use four ellipsis points (rather than three) to indicate any omission between two sentences. The first point indicates the period at the end of the first sentence quoted, and the three spaced ellipsis points follow.

Original sentences: “Beyond competitive pay and deep networks, stars—more than others—may be motivated to remain with organizations that provide opportunities to influence others or be involved in strategic decision-making. For example, a star union leader who is trusted to negotiate on behalf of membership may be motivated by nonfinancial opportunities, such as the chance to be seen as a leader, and hence, appealing to self-enhancement and self-expansion motives as described earlier. Thus, providing such influence opportunities may help organizations retain stars more than they help retain other employees.”

Correct use: Call et al. (2015) theorized that star employees “may be motivated to remain with organizations that provide opportunities to influence others or be involved in strategic decision-making. . . . providing such influence opportunities may help organizations retain stars more than they help retain other employees” (p. 633).

Incorrect use: Call et al. (2015) theorized that star employees “may be motivated to remain with organizations that provide opportunities to influence others or be involved in strategic decision-making . . . providing such influence opportunities may help organizations retain stars more than they help retain other employees” (p. 633).

For more information, see Publication Manual § 6.08. Do you have any other questions regarding the use of ellipses and quotation marks? Leave a comment below.

Source: Call, M. L., Nyberg, A. J., & Thatcher, S. M. B. (2015). Stargazing: An integrative conceptual review, theoretical reconciliation, and extension for star employee research. Journal of Applied Psychology, 100, 623–640. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0039100

 

December 13, 2013

Accentuate the Appositive

Daisiesby Stefanie

Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose. —Gertrude Stein, “Sacred Emily”


One of the delights of life is that there is usually more than one way to describe something, and often those details matter. I may walk into a room and see a rose, a dog, and a book (I admit, my house is very messy). But that rose is of the Claude Monet variety, grown in my neighbor’s tucked-away garden. That dog is a tricolor beagle that never barks. That book with the oddly literal title is the fifth and final novel of a supernatural mystery series. The details of these items are what differentiate them from the other roses, dogs, and books that might be in the same vicinity (like I said, my house is messy).
 
An appositive is a restatement of what a thing is, in different terms, that adds to the understanding of that thing’s identity. The appositive can be short or long, restrictive or nonrestrictive; an appositive appears next to the noun it is renaming.
 
Appositives are usually set off by commas. That is, they are usually of the nonrestrictive variety, in that they provide extra information but the sentence is clear and complete even without them. By “set off,” I mean that when a nonrestrictive clause appears in the middle of a sentence, commas go both before and after the appositive (see also section 3.22 of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th ed., p. 83, for additional examples).

The flower, a carefully cultivated and locally grown Claude Monet rose, drew the eye of my visitor.

My faithful dog, a tricolor beagle whose main claim to fame is his complete failure as a watchdog, didn’t even stir when the stranger entered the room.

The visitor touched the cover of the book on the end table, Blood Debt by Tanya Huff.

Restrictive appositives are essential for meaning and do not take commas (see section 4.03 of the Publication Manual, p. 89). Note in the examples below that because the narrator has more than one brother and because there is more than one blockbuster movie, the specific names offered in the appositives are necessary and thus should not be cordoned off with commas.

My brother John is much more reasonable than my brothers Paul and George.

The blockbuster movie Independence Day was blaring at a ridiculous volume from the other room.

Using appositives well can add detail and life to your writing. If you have comments or questions about appositives, please write to styleexpert@apa.org or leave a comment below!

 

November 21, 2013

Pluralize Numbers and Abbreviations Without Apostrophes

DB2



by David Becker

A common mistake people make is to include apostrophes when pluralizing a number or an abbreviation. Apostrophes are generally used in contractions and to indicate the possessive case, but they are not used to form plurals of numbers and abbreviations in APA Style.

For instance, writing “the 1960’s” when referring to that entire decade is incorrect; instead, one should write “the 1960s.” The same rule applies to the plural form of any other type of number, such as describing someone’s age (e.g. “clients in their 80s”), and is discussed further in section 4.38 on page 114 of the Publication Manual.

A similar rule in section 4.29 on page 110 applies to abbreviations. Just as with numbers, don’t include an apostrophe when pluralizing abbreviations. For example, when pluralizing an acronym, such as “CV” for “curriculum vitae,” all you need to do is add an s to the end, as in “CVs.” This rule also applies to standalone letters, as in “The students all received As.” For abbreviations that end with a period, such as “Ed.” to indicate an editor in a reference list entry, add an s before the period, as in “Eds.” When pluralizing an italicized abbreviation, remember not to italicize the s, as in “ps.” Just don’t add an apostrophe.

For more information, take a look at our other posts on punctuation in APA Style. Punctuation is also covered in more detail on pages 87–96 of the Publication Manual. And, of course, please feel free to comment on this post or contact us with any of your style questions.

September 20, 2013

Comma Usage and Compound Predicates

DB2





by David Becker

Time for a brief review of Grammar 101! As you know, a sentence has two major components—the subject and the predicate. The subject is the person, place, or thing that the sentence is about. The predicate says something about the subject. Here is a basic example with the subject in blue and the predicate in red:

Ritija scratched the cat’s head.

A compound predicate says two or more things about the subject. A common mistake people make is to insert a comma between two elements of a compound predicate. This comma adds a pause that creates distance between the subject and the predicate, so you should not include a comma in this case, just as you would not use a comma to separate a verb from its subject or object. Here is an example that demonstrates the correct and incorrect ways to write a sentence with a compound predicate:

Correct: Ritija scratched the cat’s head and rubbed his belly.
Incorrect: Ritija scratched the cat’s head, and rubbed his belly.

However, a compound predicate with three or more elements constitutes a list, so it would be correct to separate them with commas. Commas are essential in this case to distinguish one element of the compound predicate from the rest. (Don’t forget the serial comma!)

The cat closed his eyes, purred, and twitched his ears.

Also note that a sentence with a compound predicate is different from a sentence with two independent clauses joined by a conjunction. The latter requires a comma to create a pause between two distinct thoughts that could be separate sentences. Here’s an example:

Correct: Ritija scratched the cat’s head, and the cat purred.
Incorrect: Ritija scratched the cat’s head and the cat purred.

I hope this will help you avoid incorrect comma usage in the future. For more information on when and when not to use commas, see section 4.03, pages 88–89 of the Publication Manual. If you have any other questions, feel free to contact us or comment on this post.

June 20, 2013

Forming Possessives With Singular Names

Tyler

 

 

by Tyler Krupa

I don’t think that I’m revealing a big grammar secret by letting you know that the possessive of a singular name is formed by adding an apostrophe and an s (e.g., Smith’s, 2012, study). But although this rule seems straightforward, one thing that trips up many writers is how to form possessives when the name being used ends with an s. For example, should you use “Adams’ (2013) work” or “Adams’s (2013) work”?

Per APA Style, the answer is that the possessive of a singular name is formed by adding an apostrophe and an s, even when the name ends in s (see p. 96 in the sixth edition of the Publication Manual). Therefore, in the example above, the correct usage would be “Adams’s (2013) work.” Although this presentation may look awkward to some writers, the rule for forming the possessive does not change just because the name ends in s.

However, it is important to note the following exception to this rule: You should use an apostrophe only with the singular form of names ending in unpronounced s (see p. 97 in the Publication Manual). Therefore, if you were writing a paper about the philosopher Descartes, to form the possessive with his name, you would need to just add an apostrophe (e.g., Descartes’ theory).

To help illustrate these guidelines, let’s look at a few more examples of properly formatted possessives:

Sigmund Freud’s method

Jesus’s disciples

Charles Dickens’s novels

Socrates’s life

François Rabelais’ writings (note that Rabelais ends with an unpronounced s)

We hope these examples clear up this point of possible uncertainty. Still have questions? Leave us a comment.

May 09, 2013

Punctuation Junction: Hyphens, En Dashes, and Slashes

Chelsea blog 2



by Chelsea Lee

Punctuation Junction: A series about what happens when punctuation marks collide.

The hyphen (-), en dash (–), and forward slash (/) are three punctuation marks used to indicate a relationship between words or phrases. Respectively, each mark indicates an increasing level of connection between words. The guidelines below illustrate ways to use these marks effectively, both alone and in combination.

Rolling road

1. Use a hyphen to indicate a temporary, unidirectional relationship between words that without the hyphen might be misread.

  • Correct: The low-anxiety group outperformed the high-anxiety group in the number of items they recalled from the to-be-remembered list.
  • Incorrect: The low anxiety group outperformed the high anxiety group in number of items they recalled from the to be remembered list.

2. Use an en dash to indicate an equal or bidirectional relationship between words or phrases.

  • Correct: The researcher examined the measure’s test–retest reliability.
  • Incorrect: The researcher examined the measure’s test/retest reliability.
  • Incorrect: The researcher examined the measure’s test-retest reliability.

3. Use a slash to clarify a relationship in which a hyphenated compound is used. Otherwise, use a hyphen, en dash, or phrase to show the relationship.

  • Correct: The hits/false-alarms comparison did not yield significant results, indicating the presence of a methodological error, a ceiling effect, or both.
  • Incorrect: The hits-false-alarms comparison did not yield significant results, indicating a methodological error and/or a ceiling effect.

For more on how these punctuation marks are used, see Publication Manual §4.11 and §4.13. Keep an eye out for more Punctuation Junction posts coming soon!


May 03, 2013

Punctuation Junction: Parentheses and Brackets

Chelsea blog 2by Chelsea Lee

Punctuation Junction: A series about what happens when punctuation marks collide.

Parentheses and brackets are used to enclose and set off material from the main text. Winding highway Although writers usually need only one set of parentheses or brackets at a time, for more complex material they may need an enclosure within an enclosure (referred to as a double enclosure in this post).

Four guidelines govern how to use these punctuation marks together (or not) to handle double enclosures in an APA Style paper.

1. Use brackets inside parentheses to create a double enclosure in the text. Avoid parentheses within parentheses, or nested parentheses.

  • Correct: (We also administered the Beck Depression Inventory [BDI; Beck, Steer, & Garbin, 1988], but those results are not reported here.)
  • Incorrect: (We also administered the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI; Beck, Steer, & Garbin, 1988), but those results are not reported here.)

2. Separate citations from parenthetical text with either semicolons (for parenthetical-style citations) or commas around the year (for narrative citations). Do not use a double enclosure or back-to-back parentheses.

  • Correct: Gender differences may reflect underlying continuous attributes, such as personality (e.g., communion and agency; Spence & Helmreich, 1978). These distinctions are reflected in sexually dimorphic brain structures (see Ellis et al., 2008, for recent meta-analyses).
  • Incorrect: Gender differences may reflect underlying continuous attributes, such as personality (e.g., communion and agency) (Spence & Helmreich, 1978). These distinctions are reflected in sexually dimorphic brain structures (see Ellis et al. [2008] for recent meta-analyses).

3. When a mathematical equation contains one level of enclosure, use parentheses, ( ); for two levels, add brackets outside, [( )]; for three levels, add curly brackets outside, {[( )]}.

  • Correct: Participants were asked to solve the following math problem for x after completing the priming measures: 8[x + 4(2x + 1)] = 248
  • Incorrect: Participants were asked to solve the following math problem for x after completing the priming measures: 8(x + 4[2x + 1]) = 248

4. Avoid adding a level of enclosure to statistics that already contain parentheses. Instead, use commas to set off the statistics from the text.

  • Correct: The results were statistically significant, F(1, 32) = 4.37, p = .045.
  • Incorrect: The results were statistically significant (F[1, 32] = 4.37, p = .045).
  • Incorrect: The results were statistically significant [F(1, 32) = 4.37, p = .045].

For more on how these punctuation  marks are used, see Publication Manual §4.09, §4.10, and §4.47. Keep an eye out for more Punctuation Junction posts coming soon!

***

Example text in Guideline 2 adapted from “Men and Women Are From Earth: Examining the Latent Structure of Gender,” by B. J. Carothers and H. T. Reis, 2013, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 104, p. 386. Copyright 2013 by the American Psychological Association.

 

April 18, 2013

Punctuation Junction: Question Marks and Quotation Marks

Chelsea blog 2by Chelsea Lee

Punctuation Junction: A series about what Man at two roadshappens when punctuation marks collide.

The proper use of question marks and quotation marks in combination all depends on context: Namely, are you (a) quoting a question or (b) asking a question of a quotation? Let’s look at the two scenarios and how they impact punctuation.

1. When the quotation itself is a question, put the question mark inside the quotation marks.

  • Correct: Participants were asked, “How many days, on average, have you felt depressed over the past 2 weeks?”
  • Incorrect: Participants were asked, “How many days, on average, have you felt depressed over the past 2 weeks”?

2. When the sentence as a whole is a question, but the quoted material is not, put the question mark outside the quotation marks.

  • Correct: To what degree will social desirability influence participants’ responses to the statement “I always remember to take my medication as prescribed”?
  • Incorrect: To what degree will social desirability influence participants’ responses to the statement “I always remember to take my medication as prescribed?”

For more on how quotation marks work, see APA Publication Manual §4.07. Stay tuned for more Punctuation Junction posts coming soon! 

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