Is this question really necessary?

What a mess!

He is the editor of Which?

She gave her address as 'The Manor, Wilts.' Fullstops are not required after titles, headings, or sub-headings:

The Turn of the Screw

Industrial Policy Report

IntroductionThe stop is not necessary following common titles which are shortened forms of a word (technically, 'contractions'):

Dr[Doctor] Mr[Mister]

St[Street] Mme[Madame]

Full stops are not necessary after the capital letters used as abbreviations for titles of organisations and countries:

NATONorth Atlantic Treaty Organisation

BBCBritish Broadcasting Corporation

UNOUnited Nations Organisation

USAUnited States of America

They are not used where the initials of a standard work of reference are used as an abbreviated title:

OEDOxford English Dictionary

DNBDictionary of National Biography

PMLAPapers of the Modern Languages Association

The comma is used to show a slight pause in a sentence. It helps to clarify the sense of statements and to prevent ambiguity. It separates the items in lists: The box contained a book, some pencils, and a knife. Opinions differ on the need for the final comma in such examples. If the items are all of the same kind, it can usually be omitted. If they are not, it is usually safer to retain the comma. The comma also separates two clauses when the first is not closely associated with the second: She is a famous singer, whilst her husband remains unknown. It introduces a pause where the eye might otherwise continue and mistake the sense of what is written: In the valley below, the villages looked small. It separates a sequence of adjectives which qualify a noun: He was an arrogant, pompous fellow. However, when the adjectives are of a different order or type, no comma is necessary: He was a distinguished foreign visitor. The comma marks the start and finish of a parenthetical phrase within a sentence: / am quite sure, despite my reservations, that he's the best man.

Brackets are used to insert a word or a phrase into a sentence (Most of the suspects (seven in all) were questioned by the police). The words inserted between brackets are usually an explanation or an illustration. The rules of the usage of brackets are such:

> Round bracketsare used to represent an aside or an extra piece of information which is closely related to the main subject of the sentence.

- Goodwin argues that Thompson's policies (which he clearly dislikes) would only increase the problem.


Square bracketsare used to indicate that something is being added by
the author. This is usually for clarification or comment.

- The reporter added that the woman [Mrs Wood] had suffered severe injuries.

- A mother wrote that her son was 'fritened [sic] to go to school'.


When brackets are used at the end of a sentence, the full stop falls outside the bracket (like this).

Statements inside brackets should be grammatically separate from the sentence. That is, the sentence should be complete, even if the contents of the brackets are removed.

- The republican senator (who was visiting London for a minor op
eration) also attended the degree ceremony.

If a quotation contains a mistake in the original you can indicate that the
error is not your own. This is indicated by the use of square brackets.

- The senior government minister who was recently acquitted of
kerb-crawling claimed that at long last his 'trails [sic] and tribula
tions' were at an end.

The expressions within brackets should be kept as brief as possible, so asnot to interrupt the flow of the sentence.

The use of brackets should be kept to a minimum. If used too frequently, they create a choppy, unsettling effect.

The dash is used to indicate a sudden change of thought, an additional :omment, or a dramatic qualification: Tlmt was the end of the matter - or we thought. Dashes can also be used to insert a comment or a list ofthings: Everything - furniture, paintings, and books - survived the fire.

The exclamation mark indicates surprise, gladness, irritation, despair, indignation, anger, alarm and other feelings and emotions: The ship is sinking! Jump in the lifeboat! When the exclamation mark is put at the end of asentence, the nature of which is not exclamatory, it may express the speaker's irony, sorrow, nostalgia and other shades of modality. Exclamation marks should be used with restraint. The more frequently they occur, the weaker becomes their effect.

The interrogative mark is used to show that a question has been raised: Why is that woman staring at us?

The hyphen is a short dash which connects words or parts of words. Hyphens form derivatives and compounds: re-enter, co-operate, multistory, son-in-law, president-elect. There are some peculiarities in the usage of hyphens:

'r Hyphens should be used where it is necessary to avoid ambiguity:
two-year-old cats two year-old cats

They should also be used to distinguish terms which are spelled identical
ly, but which have different meanings:

reformationchange for the better

re-formationto form again

recoverto regain control

re-coverto cover again

resignto stand down

re-signto sign again

Hyphens are used when new terms are formed from compounds, but
they are dropped when the compound is accepted into common usage.
(This process is usually more rapid in the USA than in Europe.)

bath-tub book-shelf club-house
bathtub bookshelf clubhouse

This phenomenon is currently visible in computer technology, where all
three forms of a term may co-exist:

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