Punctuation establishes the cadence of a sentence, telling readers where to pause (comma, semicolon, and colon), stop (period and question mark), or take a detour (dash, parentheses, and square brackets). Punctuation of a sentence usually denotes a pause in thought; different kinds of punctuation indicate different kinds and lengths of pauses.

Ensure you neither overuse nor underuse various kinds of punctuation marks. For example, many writers overuse dashes. If the puncutation within a sentence becomes challenging to read, try rewording the sentence or splitting the sentence into multiple shorter sentences.

The Publication Manual contains guidance on how to use periods, commas, semicolons, colons, dashes, quotation marks, parentheses, square brackets, and slashes. Only a subset of the guidance is presented on the website to answers users’ most common questions.

Photo of APA Publication Manual open to Punctuation
Punctuation is covered in Chapter 6 of the APA Publication Manual, Seventh Edition

Additional Resources

Publication Manual 6th Edition

6th Edition Resources

View frequently asked questions, quick guides, and our free tutorial

Dictionary of Psychology

APA Dictionary of Psychology

Browse more than 25,000 authoritative entries across 90 subfields of psychology

description

Course Adoption

Teaching APA Style? Become a course adopter of the 7th edition Publication Manual