AddressesAmpersandsBullet pointsColons and semi-colonsCommasDashesEllipsesEmail addressesFull stops Quotes


Set out addresses without punctuation at the end of a line and don't use shortened forms.

Divisional Director
Advancement Division
PO Box 65
Monash University
Melbourne, Victoria 3800


Avoid ampersands. (For the uninitiated, they look like '&'.) Use 'and' instead. You should only use an ampersand where it forms part of an official name.

Art, Design and Architecture
MGW3130 Organisational change and development
Allen & Unwin

Bullet points

End the introductory phrase preceding a list of bullet points in a colon. If the individual bullet points are sentence fragments, don't use a full stop, comma or semi-colon. Leave it bare until the last bullet point, and then use a full stop. Don't use capitals.

Disciplines offered at Clayton include:

  • art history
  • engineering
  • marketing
  • management
  • science.

Enrolment gives you the chance to:

  • meet faculty course advisers
  • discuss unit selection and course structure
  • ask any other questions you have about your studies.

Use full stops if each bullet point is a complete sentence.

Five important points to remember on exam day:

  • Get there on time.
  • Take care of the technicalities.
  • Read the instructions.
  • Breathe deeply and don't panic.
  • Answer the question.

Colons and semi-colons

A colon is commonly used to introduce a series or list. If a colon introduces a complete sentence, more than one sentence, a formal statement, quotation, or speech in a dialogue, capitalise the first word of the sentence.

The sign clearly states: Do not enter.

If the colon introduces a sentence fragment, don't capitalise the first letter.

I've got two words for you: semester break.

Use a semi-colon to join clauses when a conjunction is omitted, or when the connection is close.

The statistical information proves the theory; the doubters are put in their place.


Introducing information

You can often use commas after an opening clause or phrase. 

After the students had discussed the hike in fees, they decided to stage a non-violent protest.
For example, the Indonesian orangutan population could be extinct within 10 years.

You can often omit the comma if the clause or phrase is short and the omission doesn't cause confusion. 

Before the meeting she reviewed the documentation.

The Oxford comma

An Oxford comma is a comma after the penultimate item in a list.

These include degrees in art and design, arts, business, engineering, and information technology.

Where there are several, one-word items listed in a sentence and separated by commas, you don't need to use an Oxford comma. 

By the time you graduate, you'll have the knowledge, skills and desire to make a positive impact on the world.

However, if readers may be confused from the omission of the comma, leave it in. 

It judges universities in 13 areas, including teaching excellence, research that pushes the boundaries of understanding and innovation, knowledge transfer, the quality and diversity of staff, and the ability to provide an inspiring, international teaching environment for undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Extra information

You can also use commas to enclose extra (or parenthetical) information within a sentence. The trick is to work out whether the sentence would retain its meaning if you removed the extra information. 

The course, which failed to attract enough students, was cancelled.

While the copy within the commas gives us extra information about why the course was cancelled, if we removed it, the sentence still conveys the same basic information.

The course was cancelled.

The clause 'which failed to attract enough students' is called a descriptive clause. In other words, it provides extra description.

But if we are discussing several courses, and I asked you which course was cancelled, you might reply:

The course that failed to attract enough students was cancelled.

Saying 'The course was cancelled' would not answer my question. In this case, the clause is restrictive, and does not take commas. Also note that a descriptive clause generally takes the preposition 'which', while a restrictive course generally takes a 'that'.


Use a comma in any number with more than four figures.


If two sets of unrelated numbers are given side-by-side, you can use a comma to separate the numbers as an aid to clarity.

By 1995, 33 per cent of Australia's population was not so inclined.


Generally, hyphens join and dashes separate. A hyphen is the shortest of the horizontal punctuation lines; dashes are longer.

At Monash, we use en dashes ( – ) rather than em dashes (—).

To create an en dash:
PC: Press 'Ctrl' + the numeric hyphen.
Mac: Press 'option' + 'hyphen'.

En dashes within sentences have one space before and one space after them to bracket an independent clause, or at the end of a sentence to introduce a sentence fragment. Don't use more than one set of en dashes in any given sentence.

The skills you gain in academic research – to reason and reflect, to think critically, conceptually and creatively, to analyse data and ideas – will serve you well whether you decide to take on a research degree, or go straight to the workplace.

En dashes without spaces are used to link items that still retain their separate entities (it is because they retain their separate entities that an en dash is used rather than a hyphen).

The American–Australian Free Trade Agreement
hand–eye coordination

However, where an entity is complex (ie more than one word long) you need to add a spaced en dash.

The New South Wales – Victoria border…

See Numbers, dates and times for more information about using en-dashes.


You should begin ellipses immediately after the word they follow, with no space either after the word or between the dots. Microsoft Word will automatically reformat the full stops as ellipses. Place one space after the final dot. Ellipses should always be exactly three dots.

Where a quoted sentence ends with an ellipsis, you don't need to add a final full stop. 

We will pay you... just not with money.
Of course, I could be wrong... 

Email addresses

Don't capitalise people's names when they form part of an email address.

Full stops

Only insert one space following a full stop at the end of a sentence.

Don't use full stops with contractions such as Mr, Dr, Mrs, or with terms such as Pty Ltd.

Include spaces between initials and no full stops.

A S Byatt

Quotes and quote marks

In marketing material, use single quote marks for direct speech. Use double quote marks for quotes within quotes. Pull-out quotes in print materials and online are a design element, and can take different punctuation for effect. 

If you're writing for the media, replicate the style of the organisation you're writing for. Generally, media companies use double quote marks for direct speech, and single marks for quotes within quotes.

In full sentences, include punctuation within the quote marks; for partial quotes, include punctuation outside. Compare these sentences:

"The development is an exciting opportunity for Monash," the dean announced.

According to the dean, the development is "an exciting opportunity for Monash".

Indented quotes

As a rule of thumb, you should indent quotations that are longer than five lines, or about 60 words. If you've indented a quote, you don't need to use quote marks.

You should maintain the spelling and punctuation of the original source, even if it is not correct by today's standards or according to this style guide.

If the source quotation is truncated, either in the middle or at the end of the quotation, use ellipses to mark the point of the omitted material. Don't use ellipses at the start of the quote, even if material has been omitted there.

If you are adjusting the wording slightly to fit the grammar of the sentence, put the new words in brackets.

"It was never my intention to inconvenience [her] in any way."