72 votes
Accepted

What is "/ /" used for in a sentence?

In the sentence quoted, I would interpret the marks as an indication that the enclosed word would be printed in an alternative typeface—italic or bold—if the layout conformed to conventional ...
brasshat's user avatar
  • 4,329
61 votes

What did Tolkien mean by this awkward sentence structure?

As Mark Guarino asserts in this Chicago Tribune article, The Hobbit was meant to be read aloud. Not only was the prose intended to sound like someone speaking, but "[t]he voice is often written ...
Aralcar's user avatar
  • 1,178
47 votes
Accepted

How many people are in the sentence "My friend, John, and I went shopping"?

The first example could be a use of parenthetical commas - the commas here act like parentheses (braces), so it's equivalent to My friend (John) and I went shopping. So there's still just you ...
Max Williams's user avatar
  • 23.1k
40 votes

Why are "i.e." and "e.g." written in lower case with periods, while "NB" is typically written in CAPS with no periods?

Here is what The Chicago Manual of Style has to say: NB, n.b.     nota bene, take careful note (capitals are illogical but often used for emphasis) Source: The Chicago Manual of Style (login required)...
Tinfoil Hat's user avatar
  • 17.1k
36 votes
Accepted

Could it be correct to have the word "however" flanked by two commas?

Yes the grammar checking is correct in this case. It could be correct to flank however with commas in some cases but not in the particular case you have in your example, because it is a compound ...
Gary's user avatar
  • 9,703
34 votes
Accepted

Is there punctuation for words treated as words?

Although you can put treason and traitor in quotation marks or italics, the use of words like in the sentence to indicate that they are being referenced as words rather than syntactic entities means ...
Jason Bassford's user avatar
33 votes

What is "/ /" used for in a sentence?

This is a common convention in text-only communication, such as Usenet, email or IRC. Without typography, some indications of emphasis are commonly used: _underline_ /italic/ *bold* -deleted- (rare) ...
Toby Speight's user avatar
  • 1,447
32 votes
Accepted

What do you call these symbols on either side of some text?

These look like fleurons: A fleuron, also known as printers' flower, is a typographic element, or glyph, used either as a punctuation mark or as an ornament for typographic compositions.
psmears's user avatar
  • 16.4k
30 votes
Accepted

What is the name of the glyph that separates sections of a chapter?

As explained by this page on Wikipedia, it's called a section break. I point you to the text of the annotation on the right side of the page where it pairs this term with the same kind of glyph you ...
John Clifford's user avatar
29 votes

Should “Surely I must be wrong” end with a question mark?

If your sentence is requesting an answer, then end it with a question mark. If it is not, then do not do so. When we speak English, we naturally employ a rising pitch in our voice over the course of ...
tchrist's user avatar
  • 135k
29 votes
Accepted

Should “Surely I must be wrong” end with a question mark?

The question mark (?) is almost never used in English as a strictly syntactic marker. You would do better to think of it as imposing interrogative intonation—the characteristic rising tone at the end ...
StoneyB on hiatus's user avatar
28 votes
Accepted

What guides to style explain where footnoting superscripts go, inside or outside punctuation?

I thought readers might like to see how different style guides address the general question of how to position footnote callouts (termed "cues" in The Oxford Guide to Style, "note ...
Sven Yargs's user avatar
  • 163k
27 votes

Do I have to put a comma before "in which" here?

It all depends on what you mean to say. If you want to imply that all books are interesting to read, then the relative clause has to be non-restrictive or non-defining (set off by commas): A book, ...
Gustavson's user avatar
  • 3,200
26 votes

Is it ever correct to have a space before a question or exclamation mark?

People have mentioned in the comments that, yes, in the past, a small (non-breaking) space was inserted before an ! and a ? These must never start a new line. The space is also a small space, very ...
Au101's user avatar
  • 1,842
24 votes

Is it ever correct to have a space before a question or exclamation mark?

The Chicago Manual of Style recommends a nonbreakable space before and after an ellipsis when the intention is to trail off a sentence. 13.52 Ellipses with other punctuation. Placement of the other ...
Stu W's user avatar
  • 7,126
24 votes
Accepted

How to use a slash to describe two options, one of which is made up of two or more words?

The FAQ of the Chicago Manual of Style advises: If the slash divides two words, there is no space. If it divides two phrases or sentences (or a single word from a phrase), it requires a space before ...
Gnawme's user avatar
  • 40.9k
22 votes

Is there punctuation for words treated as words?

I can't speak to whether the New York Times is following a style guide that bids them to leave off the quotation marks. I would have written that paragraph with quotes. I can, however, answer your ...
Azor Ahai -him-'s user avatar
22 votes

When someone spells out letters in dialogue, should they be capitalized? "P-L-E-A-S-E" vs. "p-l-e-a-s-e"

Whether in dialogue or not, proper naming of a single letter of the alphabet varies by style guide. Options include uppercase, lowercase, in quotes, bold, or italics: Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) ...
Ellie Kesselman's user avatar
21 votes

What did Tolkien mean by this awkward sentence structure?

This is probably an example of a resumptive pronoun. It could also be an example of anacoluthon, which is the intentional breaking of syntax or grammar for effect. The following is speculation on my ...
siride's user avatar
  • 1,052
18 votes

Punctuation with "and thus" in the middle of a sentence

This sentence has two independent clauses. They are connected by "and" with a comma before it. The "and" and the comma are correct. However, adding a comma after "thus" is not correct because it is an ...
Maldives's user avatar
  • 181
18 votes

How many people are in the sentence "My friend, John, and I went shopping"?

My friend John and I went shopping. You do not need to wrap the friend's name in commas – unless that friend is your only friend. Generally when you are identifying something or someone, such as John,...
Unrelated's user avatar
  • 4,933
18 votes
Accepted

Are these uses of em dashes extant in English-language fiction?

The em dash is sometimes used to signal interrupted dialogue. Interruptions can occur due to events or other dialogue, sometimes after a complete sentence and sometimes not. For instance, in ...
TaliesinMerlin's user avatar
18 votes

What do you call these symbols on either side of some text?

In typography, these ornaments are called ❦ dingbats ❦ Here are some: Image source: Beyond the Bullets: 6 Great Uses For Dingbat Fonts
Tinfoil Hat's user avatar
  • 17.1k
18 votes

What punctuation do I use in "stage performers, their stage: the sky"?

I'd agree that it would be a good style choice to have [medium pause/break] ... [short pause/break] here. One way round this is to push the supercomma usage of the semicolon: They dance in the ...
Edwin Ashworth's user avatar
17 votes

Which singular names ending in “s” form possessives with only a bare apostrophe?

Bryan Garner, Garner's Modern American Usage, second edition (2003) offers the following discussion of how to handle possessive proper names ending in -s: POSSESSIVES. A. Singular Possessives. To ...
Sven Yargs's user avatar
  • 163k
16 votes

Should I always use a comma after "e.g." or "i.e."?

I am late to the party, but among all the excellent citations given in support of using or not using a comma after i.e. and e.g., let me also mention what New Hart's Rules (2005) from Oxford ...
LWTBP's user avatar
  • 724
15 votes

Do I need a comma after this question mark?

Chicago's position The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition (2003) asserts this broad rule against combining question marks (or exclamation points) and commas (or periods): 6.123 When to omit ...
Sven Yargs's user avatar
  • 163k
14 votes
Accepted

Are en-dash, em-dash, hyphen, minus sign, and quotation dash superfluous?

You can easily construct a "garden-path" sentence based on a phrasal verb where the choice of punctuation can clearly show whether you meant it to be a phrasal verb or not: She was upset by my ...
Hellion's user avatar
  • 59.4k
13 votes

What is the name of the glyph that looks like a dash, but tapers on a single end?

These types of symbols are generally called ornaments or sometimes typographic ornaments (see here and the comment below for more info and alternate names). Your example is specifically a page ...
DyingIsFun's user avatar
  • 17.9k

Only top scored, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible