Here are most of the common punctuation marks you will run across when writing. Each one has a brief explanation of how and when to use it plus an example showing proper usage. Some punctuation marks though have multiple different uses so pay close attention to them.

The Period

Periods are one of the most important punctuation marks. They tell the reader that the sentence you're writing has ended (and if you were reading out loud, they are when the person would take a breath.) After a period, the next word always begins with a capital.

Example usage:

The sky is bright blue today. Tomorrow is supposed to be the same.

The Exclamation point

The exclamation point is used to provide emphasis on a sentence. It can add tension, seriousness and urgency to a sentence. Like a period though, it always comes at the end of the sentence and the next word after it always starts with a capital.

Example usage:

Look! Up in the sky! It's Superman!

The Question mark

The question mark is used to show that the writer is asking something. It means they want a reply on that sentence. Again, like a period the next word after the question mark needs to start with a capital.

Example usage:

Did you see him? Where did he go?

The Quotation marks

The quotation marks are used to surround sentences that belong to others. They also denote spoken words for characters. Typically when quotation marks are used they get dropped down to a new line to create a visual distinction and make it easier for people to read. They also act like independent sentences with other punctuation inside of them.

Example usage:

"Get your camera Jimmy. " Lois said.

The Slash

In writing the slash is usually used to show two things that are the same (often with different names) or opposites. If it were spoken, the slash often translates to the word “or”. Unlike other punctuation (like the period), the next word after the slash doesn't need to start with a capital (unless the next word is a name like in the example).

Example usage:

Clark Kent/Superman flew towards the Daily Planet.

The Apostrophe

The apostrophe is used to show 2 different things…

1- Ownership.
This shows that someone or something owns the behaviour or action or possesion in the sentence. Usually the thing being owned is close to the one doing the owning in the sentence order. This also does not require a capital to follow the apostrophe, however it usually must be followed up with an “s”. (The only exception is if the word already ends with an “s” and the next word starts with an “s”.)

Example usage:

Superman's heat vision melted the falling meteor.

2- Contractions.
This shows that two words that normally stand on their own are combined. This only applies to certain word combinations though usually involving the words “not”, “is” or “are”. Like: isn't (contraction of is not), it's (contraction of it is), they're (contraction of they are). Much like the other apostrophe use, this also does not require a capital to follow it. Example usage:

It's great that Superman stopped the meteor.

The Ampersand

The ampersand simply means “and”. It could easily be replaced with “and”, the meaning wouldn't change at all. Traditionally this is used for names only though. It is not acceptable to place in ”&” instead of the word “and” in most other places. (So using it in other places in a sentence, aside from names, is not acceptable.)

Example usage:

Lois & Clark

The Asterisk

Asterisks are generally used to draw attention to a sentence and say: “I have more to say on this, see below.” Generally it offers more explanation on a part of the sentence without having to stop and interrupt the sentence already being typed. It should be used right directly behind the word/last word in the sentence you're going to be explaining more on (which means it will often be followed by a period). Generally it is bad form to use more than 1 asterisk in a sentence, but if it must be done then traditionally to indicate where to look, the author uses multiple asterisks. EX- ** or ***.

Example usage:

Clark* was sitting at his desk, having just returned from another job**.
*AKA Superman 
** saving people.

The Ellipsis

The ellipsis is a set of 3 periods that has 2 commonly used meanings.

1- Used at the end of the sentence. This generally indicates that the writer is trailing off and that there is more coming. (If spoken out loud this would be them ending midway through a sentence.)

Example usage:

Luthor sat at his desk... Plotting to kill his nemesis

2- Used in the middle of text to show that not all of it has been quoted/copied. It is usually done to highlight specific sections of text that are relevant to a conversation. Example usage:

Luthor ... plotting to kill his nemesis


Brackets are used to show a visual distinction in the text, that an idea is related to the sentence at hand and warrants mention right then and there, but is awkward or doesn't quite fit or make sense on it's own. The text in the brackets should be able to be removed without really affecting the sentence. Which is often how you can tell whether you're using brackets properly. If you can remove the part in brackets and the sentence can still be understood then it's likely they've been used properly.

A few tips for using brackets are:

  • Try to avoid using too many brackets though.
  • Especially avoid brackets within brackets. (That tends to just create confusion.)
  • Limit how much you put inside brackets in the middle of a sentence since it can make following and understanding the whole sentence harder if there is a 3-4 line part in brackets right in the middle.

Example usage:

 Lex fired an energy blast (from his lexo-suit weapon) at the man of steel.


Commas are one of the most misunderstood (and often incorrectly used) punctuation mark. Like other punctuation marks they go directly after the word and then a space is placed after them. They are used to give a brief pause in the text so that if a person were reading the text it's their cue for them to stop for a second to take a breath.

They have several different uses…

1- Separation of parts a sentence. This shows that a second and smaller sentence (that is related to the first sentence) is there. This second part may not have enough to be all on it's own so is instead joined into the first sentence with a comma.

Consider this example :

Superman jumped in front of the energy blast, just as Luthor predicted he would. 

The section after the comma itself isn't a complete sentence on it's own. It depends on the first sentence to make it's meaning clear by providing the subject (Superman) and the action (Superman's jump).

2- Lists. Commas used to show lists are done for only lists which have more than 3 items.

 Luthor yelled at Superman that he was going to kill him, Lois, and Jimmy. 

3- Like brackets, to highlight information that could otherwise be removed.

Superman never even paused, he had heard threats like these countless times, as he grabbed Luthor's blaster and crushed it.

4- In numbers to break up groups of 3 to make them easier to read. Like in this case:

 The blaster shattered into 1,000 tiny pieces.