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Chapter 7. Style > Use consistent and appropriate punctuation

Use consistent and appropriate punctuation

Most industries have adopted guidelines about how to use punctuation because no single authority for English punctuation exists that provides rules for every situation. Moreover, just as writing styles change over time, some of the guidelines that govern the use of punctuation also change. For example, the newspaper industry currently prefers not to use a serial comma before a coordinating conjunction, whereas in technical writing this comma is often mandatory.

Not all style guides agree on the use of punctuation. For example, non-American style guides typically say to use single quotation marks around new terms. As another example, many technical style guides suggest that you avoid using a pair of dashes to set off parenthetical information. In the following sentence, notice that the information surrounded by dashes is not important or restrictive:


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