Posts related to punctuation
How do I handle prefixes such as pre- and post- in MLA style?
MLA style, which follows Merriam-Webster, does not use hyphens after most prefixes. We would write, for example, antiestablishment, coauthor, nonlinear, and prealgebra. A hyphen is needed, however, before a capital letter… Read More
Are there instances when you might not place a parenthetical citation at the end of a sentence?
MLA style aims to make in-text citations as unobtrusive as possible, so we normally recommend placing them at the end of a sentence, but sometimes… Read More
Where do I place an exclamation point or a question mark in relation to a parenthetical reference for a paraphrase?
You should place an exclamation point or a question mark after the parenthetical reference for a paraphrase: Why did Karl Marx say that a commodity is… Read More
Can I use brackets to change the tense of a verb so that a quotation will fit syntactically into my sentence?
When a verb in a quotation does not fit syntactically into your sentence, you may use brackets to change the tense: If Charles Dickens were… Read More
Should a hyphen or an en dash be used for inclusive page ranges?
In the MLA Handbook and examples of student writing on The MLA Style Center, hyphens are used in page ranges since hyphens may be easier for students… Read More
How should I style a direct question contained in a sentence?
If a direct question contained in a sentence is long or has internal punctuation, set the question off with a comma and begin it with a capital… Read More
If I am quoting the first few words of one line of poetry and the last few words of the next line of poetry, should I use two sets of ellipses with a slash between them?
Yes. Clarity is worth the trouble of more punctuation. Let’s say you quote the following two lines of poetry: He had forty-two boxes, all carefully packed,… Read More
Why do periods and commas go inside quotation marks in MLA style?
The MLA Handbook notes, “By convention, commas and periods that directly follow quotations go inside the closing quotation marks” (267). Thus, in the following sentence, the comma… Read More