AP Style

AP Stylebook punctuation guide: brackets, colon and dash

The AP Stylebook does not mince its words when ruling on the importance of punctuation. “There is no alternative to correct punctuation. Incorrect punctuation can change the meaning of a sentence, the results of which could be far-reaching.”

Whether you’re eating shoots and leaving or just a little confused as to if the comma is ALWAYS placed within quotation marks in a sentence, you’ll want to check out these punctuation rules.

brackets [] Shouldn’t be used as they cannot be transmitted over news wires. A writer ought to use parentheses or recast.

colon (:) You should only ever capitalize the first word after a colon if it is the start of a complete sentence or a proper noun.

  • “She promised this: She will never try to wear heels to the beach again.”
  • “He only had three things he wanted to do when he got home: eat, shower and sleep.”

dash (—) Use for:

  • Abrupt changes in thought in a sentence
  • A series within a phrase
  • Attribution
  • Datelines
  • In lists instead of bullets





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