Punctuation: Spaces after Full Stops


New Hart&#39s Rules: Guide of fashion for Authors and Editors by Robert Ritter (Oxford College Press) is really a helpful reference for questions about punctuation along with other facets of showing text.

Although all technical authors should make sure that they do know the guidelines for implementing apostrophes properly, this isn’t a stylistic decision. The guidelines are obvious and unequivocal, and also the Apostrophe Protection Society describes them on its website.

Spaces after full stops

Online discussions have proven that some authors feel strongly relating to this point. In traditional typesetting, the area between sentences was 1.5 occasions the area between words. Although two spaces were utilised to approximate this in typed documents, RSA (a certain amount body for typing) doesn’t specify this practice. Selection of font and posting tool can impact the spacing between sentences. Many computer fonts supply the correct spacing following a full stop however, many are recognized to have errors within their kerning tables. Double spaces confuse some justification calculations, is going to be overlooked when employed in HTML and might be transformed into single spaces by a few posting tools.

Most technical authors appear to prefer one space between sentences. This preference is based on many sources, including The Chicago Manual of fashion and also the style guides of Microsoft, IBM, Sun and Apple. However, visitors with dyslexia are stated to locate a bigger space between sentences useful. If utilizing a single space leads to sentences running together, you will find 3 ways to improve the area between sentences:

  • Make use of a different font.
  • Make use of a wider space (for instance, an em space).
  • Give a second space.

The serial comma

Conjunctions like and and but are occasionally preceded with a comma. This really is most generally observed in lists of products. For instance, I purchased eggs, sausage, sausages, and bread. When the products are short and obvious, because they are within this example, omitting the comma doesn’t alter the meaning. However, when the products within the list range from the word and, this is can often be ambiguous. For instance, I must thank my parents, Joe and Mary. This may imply that the author&#39s parents are known as Joe and Mary or it could make reference to four separate people. Placing a comma helps make the second meaning obvious: I must thank my parents, Joe, and Mary. For additional complex content where there’s a substantial chance of confusion, many authors would alter the word order and possibly make use of two sentences or perhaps a bulleted list to make sure clearness.

Because the Oxford College Press maintains the serial comma, the usage is also called the Oxford comma. The Concise Oxford Companion towards the British Language states:

(3) Commas are utilized to separate products in a listing or sequence, as with cases already given. Usage varies regarding the inclusion of the comma before and within the last item (bring a seat, a wine bottle, along with a bestseller). This practice is questionable and is called the serial comma or Oxford comma, since it is area of the house type of Oxford College Press. It’s frequently unnecessary, and you will find times when a feeling requires so that it is overlooked, but more often than not it serves to prevent ambiguity: These shirt is available: red-colored, eco-friendly, yellow, and black and whitened instead of red-colored, eco-friendly, black and yellow and whitened.

&quotCOMMA&quot Concise Oxford Companion towards the British Language. Erectile dysfunction. Tom McArthur. Oxford College Press, 1998. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford College Press. Syndicated edition for Institute of Scientific and Technical Communicators. 2 This summer 2007

Abbreviations and initialisations

It’s uncommon to make use of full stops in initialisations, therefore it&#39s ISTC instead of I.S.T.C. This forms a part of a trend in British British towards minimal punctuation, that has seen the disappearance of commas in the finishes of lines in blocked-out addresses, full stops in the finishes of titles, and apostrophes from terms like the seventies and Computers. Full stops will also be vanishing from abbreviations, for example Mr, even though they continue to be seen. There’s a trend to make use of just one capital letter in acronyms (initialisations pronounced as words), for example Nato.

Most technical authors favour a clear and modern look, so long as it doesn’t result in the text harder to see or understand. Punctuation marks ought to be maintained for arranging clauses and sentences, even though some technical authors avoid semi-colons.


The punctuation utilized in bulleted (that is typed with one t like specific) or designated lists is really a matter of preference. A typical practice would be to distinguish points which are complete sentences and points that complete charge-in sentence. For that former, each point requires a concluding punctuation mark. For that latter, based on house style, the final point might take a concluding punctuation mark (preceding points might take commas or semi-colons however this has become less frequent).

For instance:

Kitchen home appliances save your time allocated to domestic chores in lots of ways:

  • Fridges reduce the necessity to shop frequently.
  • Freezers extend the time between major shopping outings.
  • Automatic washers perform the washing while a householder is otherwise engaged.
  • Tumble hairdryers remove the necessity to watch for fine weather to dry clothes.
  • Cookers have automatic programmes to possess foods ready on the householder&#39s return.

Common kitchen home appliances include:

  • Fridges
  • Freezers
  • Automatic washers
  • Tumble hairdryers
  • Cookers.

Points which are complete sentences begin with a maximum situation letter. Points such as the following on in the lead-in sentence may begin by having an upper or lower situation letter however the convention selected ought to be applied consistently.

Models of measurement

Most British magazines don’t use an area between amounts and models, whereas most worldwide standards need a space. Many authors should you prefer a thin space to ensure that the amount and unit are arranged along with a non-breaking space eliminates amounts becoming separated using their models (thin spaces are often also non-breaking). Temps and computer storage values are occasionally excluded from the requirement of an area. Rates are often excluded and, as it happens, aren’t models.

The next table summarises some guidance in the British Standards Institution.

Unit of measurement &nbsp Guidance &nbsp Source
Unit symbols &nbsp Are printed in roman (upright) type (regardless of the kind utilized in the relaxation from the text) &nbsp Baloney 5555:1993 (ISO 1000:1992) subclause 6.1
&nbsp &nbsp Remain unaltered within the plural &nbsp &nbsp
&nbsp &nbsp Don’t have any final full stop aside from normal punctuation (for instance, in the finish of the sentence) &nbsp &nbsp
&nbsp &nbsp Are designed in lower situation letters, aside from the very first letter being upper situation once the title of readily stored away produced from an effective title. &nbsp &nbsp
&nbsp &nbsp

For instance:
&nbsp&nbsp&nbspm&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp metre
&nbsp&nbsp&nbsps&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp second
&nbsp&nbsp&nbspA&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp ampere
&nbsp&nbsp&nbspWb&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp weber

&nbsp &nbsp
&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp
Spacing &nbsp The symbol is positioned following the complete statistical value within the expression for any quantity, departing an area between your statistical value and also the unit symbol. &nbsp Baloney 5555:1993 (ISO 1000:1992) subclause 6.1
&nbsp &nbsp For that models degree, minute and 2nd for plane position, there will be no space between your statistical value and also the unit symbol. &nbsp Baloney 5555:1993/ ISO 1000:1992 Annex Single-1
&nbsp &nbsp The indication of the system will be placed following the statistical value within the expression for any quantity, departing an area between your statistical value and also the unit symbol. &nbsp Baloney 5775-:1993 (ISO 31-:1992) subclause 3.4
&nbsp &nbsp &hellip the symbol &degC for degree Celsius will be preceded with a space when indicating a Celsius temperature. &nbsp &nbsp
&nbsp &nbsp The only real exceptions for this rule are suitable for the models degree, minute and 2nd for plane position, by which situation there will be no space between your statistical value and also the unit symbol. &nbsp &nbsp
&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp
Temperature &nbsp The models of thermodynamic and Celsius temperature interval or difference are the same. &nbsp Baloney 5775-4:1993 (ISO 31-4:1992)
&nbsp &nbsp &hellip such times or variations ought to be expressed in kelvins (K) or perhaps in levels Celsius (&degC). &nbsp &nbsp
&nbsp &nbsp Other names and symbols, for example &#39degr&eacute&#39, &#39deg&#39, &#39degree centigrade&#39 or &#39degree&#39, are deprecated. &nbsp &nbsp
&nbsp &nbsp &hellip the symbol &degC for that degree Celsius ought to be preceded with a space. &nbsp &nbsp

The Bureau Worldwide des Poids et Mesures (BIPM) puts out the &quotSI sales brochure&quot, now in the eighth edition. Additionally, the nation’s Physical Laboratory (NPL) puts out assistance with models of measurement and also the American National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) puts out a &quotGuide to SI Models&quot (however the latter reflects American British and thus metre isn’t typed in compliance with worldwide practice).

When abbreviating inches, in is clearer than &quot. The entire word is much more common in text (for instance, a 42-inch screen) with this along with other non-SI models.


Capital letters possess some specific roles. New Hart&#39s Rules states:

Capital letters in British are utilized to punctuate sentences, to differentiate proper nouns using their company words, for emphasis, as well as in titles and work game titles. It’s impossible to put lower absolute rules for every aspect of capitalisation

Authors ought to be consistent inside a document or some documents. They ought to ensure their approach improves instead of impedes readability and comprehension. Most style guides prefer other typographical way of emphasising words.

Using capital letters in titles has rejected. Titles frequently take merely a single initial capital (sometimes known as sentence situation). However, where titles take initial capitals on all major words (sometimes known as title situation or headline style):

  • Articles, pronouns and conjunctions usually take no capital.
  • Both areas of compound words usually take capitals (for instance, Non-Functional Needs).

Possibly probably the most questionable utilization of capitals is within creating proper nouns. As we view, this is however it must only be relevant to true proper nouns. Some technical documents are peppered with inappropriate initial capitals. Proper nouns identify specific cases of generic nouns. For instance, the generic noun window doesn’t take a preliminary capital however the title of the specific example does: the Change Title window. It may be contended that window becomes area of the proper noun inside a named example (and really should therefore take a preliminary capital) however the usage proven appears more prevalent.

The initialisation of a good nouns sometimes declines because they become integrated into the word what and treated as generic nouns. For instance, Internet is really a proper noun however, many people now write website for that generic noun. Being an aside, on the related term, the web is really a proper noun but an intranet is really a generic noun (except when used for the company&#39s intranet, by which situation a preliminary capital may be used).

Hyphens and dashes

Three measures of &#39rule&#39 figures exist:

  • Least may be the hyphen, which is often used to create compound words (for instance, at point-blank range).
  • Next may be the en-rule (or en-dash), which is often used without spaces to link elements (for instance, 1939&ndash45) and, sometimes, with spaces instead of the em-rule.
  • Longest may be the em-rule or (em-dash), which is often used without or with spaces to split up elements (for instance, Mary was late&mdashthere wasn’t any driver for that train).

The terms en-rule and em-rule be a consequence of the width from the n and m figures however the improvement in length between your figures (-, &ndash, &mdash) is dependent around the typeface.

An identical character may be the mathematical minus sign accustomed to show negative amounts. Although authors frequently make use of a hyphen instead, it’s a distinct character (usually between your en-rule and em-rule long, &ndash).

When compound test is created, they have a tendency to begin separate words that are then hyphenated and often later converted into just one word. The rate where isolated words are created differs between regional variants of British. Hyphens are utilized less today compared to what they were in the past (for instance, site or website but rarely web-site). The simplest method to remain consistent would be to pick one dictionary as the reference after which follow its preferences on hyphenation. However, as new terms evolve more rapidly than established ones, it might be hard to determine best practice for words with similar prefix. For instance, Oxford lists email, showing e-mail as a substitute, but maintains the hyphen in e-business and e-commerce. Some words might be harder to see with no hyphen (Oxford maintains the hyphen in co-worker). Preferred variants will probably change when new models of dictionaries are released.

Some house styles steer clear of the en-rule to link ranges, while using word to rather. The priority would be that the en-rule may be mistaken for any minus sign.

In certain contexts, to suggests as much as although not including. Some authors use through to avert this but others view that being an American convention. Be sure that the convention you select is known from your visitors. You can include the term inclusive to explain.

Amounts as words or numbers

Traditionally, low amounts are designed in words and greater amounts in numbers. Thresholds vary but test is frequently employed for zero to 10 in technical content, amounts below 100 in non-technical content, and something to 12 in music. Amounts at the beginning of sentences are often designed in words, while amounts with models are designed in numbers. Where text consists of many amounts, different conventions might be adopted for various roles (for instance, 50 one-inch screws or ten 2 centimetres screws). Whatever convention you practice, it&#39s easier to remain consistent when stating ranges (for instance, avoid five&ndash15).

Some authors would rather use numbers for those amounts. This causes it to be simpler to scan text for amounts, which stick out more as numbers. However, this might not necessarily function as the effect you seek inside a descriptive text.

Jakob Nielsen has recommended that amounts ought to be designed in numbers on-screen but ISTC people disputed whether delivery medium ought to be the determining factor.


You will find two aspects to using quotes:

  • Double or single
  • Sequence along with other punctuation marks.

Pocket Fowler&#39s Modern British Usage states:

  1. The primary utilization of quotes (also known as inverted commas) would be to indicate direct speech and quotes. On paper it’s quite common to make use of double quotes (&quot &quot), as well as in printing practice varies between your double and single style (&#39&#39). Single marks are generally connected with British practice (as with the Oxford and Cambridge styles) and double marks with American practice (as with the Chicago style), however the distinction in usage isn’t necessarily so obvious-cut.
  2. The primary rules of practice in BrE [British British] follow, with signs associated with a variant practice in AmE [American British]: (a) In direct speech and quotes, the closing quotation mark normally uses your final full stop: She stated, &#39I have something to request you.&#39 It ought to come after every other punctuation mark (just like an exclamation mark) which belongs to the problem being cited: They yelled, &#39Watch out!&#39 (the ultimate full stop is overlooked after an exclamation mark within this position) / Did I hear you say &#39Go away!&#39?. (b) Once the cited speech is interrupted with a confirming verb for example say, shout, etc., the punctuation that divides the sentence is defined within the quotes: &#39Go away,&#39 he stated, &#39and don&#39t ever return.&#39 (c) If your cited word or phrase comes in the finish of the sentence or coincides having a comma, the punctuation that goes towards the sentence in general is positioned outdoors the quotes: Exactly what is a &#39gigabyte&#39? / Nobody should &#39follow a large number to complete evil&#39, because the Scripture states. In AmE, however, it’s usual to put quotes outdoors the sentence punctuation (and note the greater characteristic double quotes): Nobody should &quotfollow a large number to complete evil,&quot because the Scripture states. (d) Whenever a quotation happens inside a quotation, the interior quotation is defined in double quotes marks when the primary quotation is within single marks (or the other way around, particularly in American practice): BrE &#39Have you any idea,&#39 he requested, &#39what a &quotgigabyte&quot is?&#39 / AmE &quotHave you any idea,&quot he requested, &quotwhat a &#39gigabyte&#39 is?&quot.

&quotquotation marks&quot Pocket Fowler&#39s Modern British Usage. Erectile dysfunction. Robert Allen. Oxford College Press, 1999. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford College Press. Syndicated edition for Institute of Scientific and Technical Communicators. 11 June 2007

Note: Italics are frequently used instead of quotes to stress terms, for example gigabyte above.

Trademark symbols

You will find two symbols associated with trademarks: &reg signifies that possession continues to be registered and &trade signifies that possession is stated. Trademark proprietors begin using these symbols to safeguard their trademarks. More events using trademarks should identify their possession, usually right in front few a document and, with the exception of books, on first use within the written text. It’s unnecessary to repeat the symbol on every use and doing this impairs readability.

Some companies create a global declare that trademarks are registered, and should be indicated as a result, when they’re only registered in a few areas. Authors should take a look using their legal department.

This short article was initially published online from the Institute of Scientific and Technical Communicators. Credits and copyright completely fit in with ISTC.