The dash is used to interrupt or highlight an idea. (My father – an accomplished golfer in his own right – never beat my mother in golf.) Used most often in informal contexts, the dash should be used sparingly in business writing.
If you must use a dash and can’t create one with the “function” option on your computer, use two hyphens with a space on either side ( -- ).
Either goes with or; neither goes with nor.
Correct: Neither the radio nor the television is working. Correct: I wish either the radio or the television were working.
Incorrect: Neither the radio or the television is working.
ellipses ( … )
Ellipses indicate that a word, phrase, sentence, or paragraph has been omitted. They are usually used in quoted material. Ellipses can appear at the beginning, middle, or end of a sentence.
The correct way to format ellipses is to use three dots with a space on either side. When deleted words come at the end of a sentence, use a fourth dot as the period.
Do not use ellipses for any other reason than to show omission.
exclamation point (!)
The exclamation point is used to show extreme emotion. Use only rarely; a period will almost always suffice.
A sentence is a group of words with a subject and a verb that form a complete thought. A sentence fragment is a group of words that does not form a complete thought.
Incorrect: The stenographer typed. As fast as he could. (As fast as he could is not a complete sentence.)
Correct: The stenographer typed as fast as he could.
Eliminate fragments from your writing.
Use hyphens when you combine two or more words to form an adjective or to create a new word or modifying phrase. Here’s a good rule of thumb: If the reader might otherwise be confused, use a hyphen.
the first-time traveler
the first time-traveler
If one of the words in a modifier is an adverb ending in -ly, do not use a hyphen.
She was fancily dressed.
When a series of modifiers all end with the same word, the word needs only to appear at the end of the series.
We manufacture small-, large- and mid-size cars.
Italicize names of books, newspapers, magazines, periodicals, movies, and TV shows. Use quotation marks for titles of chapters, articles, reports, poems, songs, and musical works. Exception: The titles of long musical works and poems (for example, Paradise Lost) are italicized.
Italics may also be used to show emphasis. Use them sparingly for this purpose, however.