Use the apostrophe before an "s" to indicate the possessive (i.e. something that is of, or belonging to, something else -- the graduating class of UBC).

If something is descriptive rather than possessive, it does not take an apostrophe (the guide for students, the college for teachers, the outfielder for the Jays).

In cases where the noun ends in an "s", use a single apostrophe after the "s".

Note that the "s" followed by an apostrophe reads awkwardly, so it might be better to rewrite the sentence.

In cases where the possessive is plural, use a single apostrophe after the "s" or rewrite the sentence.


Use an apostrophe with plurals of lower case letters.

Capital letters and numbers have no apostrophe before plural-s.

Do not use an apostrophe with the possessive pronoun "its".

Use an apostrophe with the contraction meaning "it is".

Brackets (Parentheses)

Use regular brackets (parentheses) to indicate a separate thought or expression within a sentence.

Regular brackets can be used to offer an explanation or definition of a term or an acronym that is to be repeated within the text.

Use brace or square brackets within a direct quote to indicate words of explanation that are not actually part of the original quotation.

Avoid nested parentheses ([ ]) or square brackets inside round brackets, whenever possible.

Commas, Semi-Colons, Colons


In a series, place commas after each item and before "and".

In a quotation, put commas and periods inside quotation marks unless the quotation is not a phrase or clause.

With a long descriptive title, put commas after the name and job description.

With degrees and long descriptive phrases, put a comma between the name, the degree, and the phrase.

When writing a specific date that includes the day of the week, put a comma between the weekday and the month.

If abbreviating the weekday, remove the comma.

Use a comma before a list beginning e.g. but not before etc. at the end of a list.

Use a comma before a list or clause beginning with i.e.


Use a semi-colon to join separate statements too closely related to stand as independent sentences but are not joined by and, but, or , nor, for, yet.

Use a semi-colon to separate phrases that contain commas.

Use a semi-colon to precede explanatory phrases introduced by for example, namely, that is, accordingly, however, therefore when a comma seems too weak.


Use a colon, rather than a comma, to introduce a direct quotation longer than a short sentence.

Use a colon in lines introducing lists, texts and tables.

Use a colon to introduce an amplification, an example or a formal question or quotation. It takes the place of for example, namely, that is.

Use a colon to separate hours, minutes and seconds in clock and elapsed times, and periods before fractions of a second.

Use colons to separate titles and subtitles


The dash should not be confused with the hyphen. A hyphen is used to break a word over two lines, or to join two compound words. A dash sets off mid-sentence lists or explanations, and can be used instead of a pair of commas, or instead of a colon. Many keyboards do not have a dash key, so two short hyphens are typed as a substitute, indicating a long dash.


Use dashes to set lists apart from the rest of the sentence.

Use dashes when commas (generally preferable) would create confusion.


Three periods (...) comprise an ellipsis, with the addition of a fourth period to end a sentence. Ellipses are used to indicate omission of text. There are no extra spaces before, between or after each of the periods of the ellipsis except at the end of a sentence.


Use a hyphen when you join two words to form an adjective. This eliminates confusion.

Use no hyphen when the meaning is clear and there is no ambiguity.

A hyphen should not be used to join a prefix to a root/base except to avoid doubling a vowel, tripling a consonant, duplicating a prefix or when the context is confusing or causes ambiguity.


Use a hyphen with the prefix "re" where the word would otherwise be confusing.


One space after a period.


With a short series (list), use commas.

With a long or complex series (list), use semi-colons.


Double quotation marks frame direct quotes. Anything inside them is assumed to be exactly what was said or written. Anything else inserted inside for clarification or explanation should be framed in square brackets.

Periods and commas should be contained inside the quotation marks unless the quotation is not a phrase or clause.

Single quotation marks indicate a quote or saying within a direct quotation.