Choice Style Guide: Punctuation


(Chicago, ch. 6)


Ampersands are not used in the text of reviews or features except when they form part of a corporate name (e.g., AT&T). Even when an ampersand is used in a bib entry or a cite list for a book title or website name, "and" replaces "&" in review and feature text.


Use brackets to enclose material inserted into a quotation to supplement, clarify, etc., the quoted matter. Brackets may be used to enclose parenthetical material within parentheses, but only if there is no way of rewriting to avoid this use of brackets


A colon introduces an element or series of elements illustrating or amplifying what has preceded the colon.

The author considers the following issues: peace, war, and limited military intervention.

The author considers the following issues: Was the war necessary? Could the desired outcomes have been achieved in some other fashion? How did it really begin?

A colon should not be used before a series following a grammatically in complete sentence.

The newscast included: international events, congressional debates, and lifestyle fluff. (Delete the colon.)


Use before and or or in a series.

... includes translations of French, Spanish, German, and Dutch narratives.

... any products containing copper, iron, or zinc...

Use in compound sentences before and, but, and for. If the clauses of a compound sentence are very short, the comma may be omitted.

Half were given the new drug, and half were given a placebo.

Many of the author's analyses are intriguing, but the book needs to be used with caution.

Undergraduates will not have an easy time with this book, for the author makes few concessions.

The book includes many maps but other illustrations are lacking.

Avoid the use of the comma (unless needed for clarity) when the sentence is not a true compound sentence but is a simple sentence with a compound verb or other element.

He presents a variety of opinions but is reluctant to take a stand of his own.

Important lessons emerged about evaluating and disseminating long-term predictions of natural disasters and about the bureaucracy of disaster preparedness.

Use in complex sentences to set off nonrestrictive clauses.

The author, who has extensive knowledge of Aramaic, sees important differences between the two texts.

The book contains a lengthy afterword, which includes an interpretation of the treaty of 1873.

Schweitzer, whom the world remembers as a humanitarian, was also an accomplished organist.

Words in apposition are generally set off by commas.

The author, a professor of economics at Fordham, sees a short-term leveling off of the GNP.

Thomas Hardy's last novel, Jude the Obscure, received much harsh criticism.

Commas should not be used with restrictive appositives, but it is important to observe how context determines whether the appositive is restrictive or nonrestrictive.

Every schoolchild has heard of the poet Longfellow.

Warner boasted that once he had talked with a famous poet; the poet, Longfellow, had asked him for directions to the town's library.

In general, use a comma between adjectives that precede a noun when each adjective modifies the noun independently--i.e., when and could be substituted for the comma.

an extensive, up-to-date bibliography

Commas may be omitted from strings of adjectives, especially in technical material, when each adjective can be thought of as modifying the noun with all its other adjectives as a unit.

finned-tubed coil design

a 5-hp 230-V de shunt motor

In dates, set off a year with commas only if a month and date precede it; do not use a comma between a month and year.

Robert Lowell, who was born March 1, 1917, was yet another Lowell who wrote poetry.

Robert Lowell was born in March 1917.

A comma should precede, not follow, an end quotation mark.

Title of a work ending in a question mark or exclamation point: if the grammar of a sentence would normally require a comma after the title, use a comma.

Three stories she never mentioned were "Are You a Doctor?," "The Library of Babel," and "A Diamond as Big as the Ritz."


Em dash, M: The most common use of the em dash is to set off an amplifying or explanatory element. Do not use spaces before or after these dashes.

The book—a tour de force—breaks new ground it this field.

En dash, N dash: Use an en dash in date ranges. An en dash should also be used when a prefix or adjective modifies a phrase.


pre–Civil War politics


Form an ellipsis by typing three periods in succession, without any spaces separating them. Because Choice reviews are formatted in small type (8 pts.), ellipsis points are preceded and followed by a full space.

If a review alludes to a title … set off the citation by …

Exception: Do not insert a space between a quotation mark and an ellipsis point:

Now is the time …”


Parentheses usually set off material that is less closely related to the rest of the sentence than that enclosed in em dashes or commas.