Style Guide - P

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Punctuation

dash (—)
Abrupt change: Use dashes to denote an abrupt change in thought in a sentence or an emphatic pause. We will fly to Amsterdam in June – if KUMC gives me a huge raise.

Series within a phrase: When a phrase that otherwise would be set off by commas contains a series of words that must be separated by commas, use dashes to set off the full phrase: She listed the qualities – intelligence, humor, conservatism – that she liked.

Attribution: Use a dash before an author's or composer's name at the end of a quotation:
"Who steals my purse steals trash." –Shakespeare.

In datelines: KANSAS CITY – The University of Kansas Medical Center trains health care professionals.

hyphen (-)
Hyphens are joiners. Use them to avoid ambiguity or to form a single idea from two or more words. Use of hyphens should be restricted to instances where they don't cause confusion.

Avoid ambiguity: Use a hyphen whenever ambiguity would result if it were omitted:
Small-business owners were not happy.
(A small business is usually two words, not hyphenated. But in this case the hyphen is necessary to connect the two words, so that readers don't assume the business owners themselves were small.)
Also: He recovered his health. He re-covered the leaky roof.

Compound Modifiers: When a compound modifier – two or more words that express a single concept – precedes a noun, use hyphens to link all the words in the compound except the adverb very and all adverbs that end in –ly:
a first-quarter touchdown, a bluish-green dress, a full-time job, a well-known man, a better-qualified woman, a know-it-all employee.

However, when a modifier that would be hyphenated before a noun occurs instead after a form of the verb to be, the hyphen usually must be retained to avoid confusion: The man is well-known. The woman is quick-witted. The children are soft-spoken. The play is second-rate.

The principle of using a hyphen to avoid confusion explains why no hyphen is required with very and -ly words. Readers can expect them to modify the word that follows. But if a combination such as little-known were not hyphenated, the reader could logically be expecting little to be followed by a noun, as in little man.

Two-thought compounds: serio-comic, socio-economic.

Compound proper nouns and adjectives: Use a hyphen to designate dual heritage: Italian-American, Mexican-American. No hyphen, however, for French Canadian or Latin American.

italics
AP style does not italicize words in news stories. Italics are used in Stylebook entries to highlight examples of correct and incorrect usage.

quotation marks (" ")
For direct quotations: To surround the exact words of a speaker or written when reported in a story: "I have no intention of writing a new style guide." "I cannot object," he said, "to the way she used quotation marks." She said, "This is by far the best style guide I've ever seen."

Running Quotations: If a full paragraph of quoted material is followed by a paragraph that continues the quotation, do not put close-quote marks at the end of the first paragraph. Do, however, put open-quote marks at the start of the second paragraph. Continue in this fashion for any succeeding paragraphs, using close-quote marks only at the end of the quoted material.

If a paragraph does not start with quotation marks but ends with a quotation that is continued in the next paragraph, do not use close-quote marks at the end of the introductory paragraph if the quoted material constitutes a full sentence. Use close-quote marks, however, if the quoted material does not constitute a full sentence.

Last modified: Mar 28, 2014
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