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Athabasca University

Terminal Punctuation

Terminal punctuation refers to the punctuation marks used at the end of sentences. There are three types of terminal punctuation:

The Period

A period is required at the end of the following:

Declarative statements

Peter came to class late.
The persistence of her symptoms began to alarm her doctor.
Fear is not only a very normal emotion but also an essential one.

Imperative sentences

Stand by the door.
Write your name at the top of the page.
Put a circle around the correct answer.

Indirect questions

She asked him if he knew when the next bus came.
One needs to ask oneself whether there is any point in raising an issue that is so unpopular.
Mildred wondered where Sam got such ludicrous ideas.

Requests stated as polite questions

Would you please enclose a copy of your transcripts with your application.
Will you please forward the documents to the following address.
Could you have this typed by the end of the day.

Most abbreviations


After an ellipsis mark (three spaced periods) at the end of a sentence

And on it went, ad infinitum . . .
“Well, you might possibly, you know . . .”
He went off up the trail, off into the night, into the darkness, into . . .

Between whole numbers and decimals

.95 or 95 cents but not .95 cents

The Question Mark

A question mark is required at the end of direct questions.

“Would you like a piece of my mind?” she asked.
When will governments learn not to tinker with the monetary system?
“Where have all the Flowers Gone?” was one of Marianne Faithful’s biggest hits.

The Exclamation Mark

An exclamation mark denotes strong emotion and is the written equivalent of shouting. It is used after an interjection or emphatic exclamation

“Stop thief!” he cried.
Oh, no!
Watch out!

Note: The exclamation mark should be used sparingly.

Updated April 10 2017 by Student & Academic Services

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