Punctuation is a collection of tools that allow you to organize words into readable sections. It also helps the reader interpret the meanings of your text. Commonly, punctuation refers to punctuation marks such as comma (,), period (.), semicolon (;), and quotation marks (“”).

Why should I use punctuation?

You should use punctuation marks so your readers can follow your text easily. Using punctuation also helps improve the organization of your ideas.

How do I use punctuation correctly?

To use punctuation correctly in writing, understand the meaning and function of each mark you use. If you are unsure where to put a punctuation mark, read your text out loud and observe where you pause and stop.

The Oxford comma

The Oxford comma is also called a serial comma. It refers to the use of a comma placed immediately after every term in a series of three or more items, except for the last item.

Without the Oxford comma:

Emma likes the colors green, red and blue.

With the Oxford comma:

Emma likes the colors green, red, and blue.

Why should I use the Oxford comma?

While the usage of the Oxford comma is not required across all forms of academic writing, using it helps establish boundaries between items and thus clarify the meaning of an ambiguous sentence.

In the examples above, the sentence without the Oxford comma can be interpreted as: Emma likes the color “red and blue” and the color “green.” With an Oxford comma, this interpretation is not allowed.

Automated Feedback can help you adhere to correct punctuation usage.

Would you like to learn more about using punctuation correctly? You may find additional resources here:

https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/graduate_writing/thesis_and_dissertation/punctuation.html

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