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“Punctuation marks are essential when you are writing. They show the reader where sentences start and finish and if they are used properly they make your writing easy to understand” (Oxford Dictionary Online, 2015)

5 things you need to know...

Accurate punctuation makes your meaning clear to the reader, and is essential to good writing.  The Academic Skills team do not teach English language skills, but this libguide offers hints and tips to help you to feel more confident in this area.  

1. Don't be afraid of the rules.  If you're not confident in this area you can certainly improve.  The main purpose of punctuation is to ensure that your sentences are clear and that your writing says what you want it to say.  It is therefore worth taking the time to get it right.  

2. There are many resources available to help you if you feel this is an area of your writing that needs improvement. See our factsheet on this topic for advice around the most commonly used punctuation marks, as well as the resources listed under the 'Online' and 'Books' sections.  

3. Not sure if you need to improve?  Working with new punctuation marks in order to enhance your academic work?  Try a punctuation quiz from a credible source to check your understanding.  

4. When checking the punctuation in your work, read your draft aloud at a steady speed (don't race).  This should help you to identify any errors in your punctuation or sentence construction.  For example, incomplete or overly long sentences are often more obvious when read aloud.  You may also wish to use an online text read or other digital tools so that you can listen to your work.

5. You may find our Friendly guide to punctuation helpful.  This was produced by a student on a project placement with Academic Skills, and can be found here.  

Need to know more...

We have produced resources to help you to develop your skills in this area.  You will find a factsheet on this topic below, plus others you may find useful.  See also the Online and Books tabs above.  

Related factsheets

BBC (no date)  The apostrophe quiz!  Available at:  (Accessed: 2 September 2019).

Trask, L. (1997) Guide to punctuation.  (Accessed: 2 September 2019). 

LinkedIn Learning Resources

linkedin learning promotional imageLinkedIn Learning offers online courses and videos to support a wide range of personal, technical and creative skills.

Have a look at our Punctuation Collection for some recommended resources.

Need more advice?

You can also discuss your development of this skill with a member of the Academic Skills Team.

Make an appointment for an online discussion or email support  by using our online booking form.

Personalising your device and using assistive tools

There are many assistive technology tools which can help you choose how you want to access material and these can really improve your productivity.

The University has made some applications available on the student PCs within the library and IT Centres; others are free for you to download and use on your own devices (phone, tablet, laptop or computer) .  Find out more on our personalising standard software guide and our assistive tools and software guide.