Although not as comprehensive as the Chicago Manual of Style, the Punctuation section provides editorial guidance on punctuation usage throughout the entire manuscript. CMS citation numbers are included in parentheses, where appropriate.
Look for APSA Style Specifics for where APSA style varies from CMS style.
Authors are the primary proofreaders of a manuscript. The more an author focuses on the literary and editorial style of the manuscript, the less it will be subject to copyediting.
- Punctuation should appear in the same font type and font size as its surrounding text. It should also appear in the same font style as the surrounding text, unless it is connected to a specific word or phrase that is in a different font style for emphasis. This rule is particularly important, as it can be difficult to tell the font style of certain punctuation (e.g., italicized periods and commas).
- One space, not two or more, should follow all periods, colons, question marks, exclamation points, and closing quotation marks. No spaces should precede or follow an em-dash at any point in time.
- Periods and commas precede closing quotation marks, in traditional American English style (6.9). While this rule applies to most other punctuation as well, this is not the case with semicolons, colons, question marks, and exclamation points that are not included explicitly as a part of the quoted matter.
The options available are “left,” “right,” “up,” and “down.” What will be the outcome of the era of “alternative facts”?
- When an entire sentence is placed inside parentheses or brackets, the period belongs inside (6.13). When the parenthetical or bracketed clause is included as part of another sentence (even if it could grammatically be a sentence itself), the period belongs outside.
- Ampersands (&) should only be used in tight matter (i.e., tables and figures, notes, reference lists, appendices) and titles and headings/subheadings, never in the body of the manuscript.
- The serial comma (also called the Oxford comma) should be used throughout the entirety of manuscripts, except in the few instances before ampersands (6.19).
- Use apostrophes to: (1) indicate the possessive case, (2) indicate a missing numeral (e.g., class of ’08), or (3) form a plural. The unidirectional apostrophe should not be used. Much like quotation marks, typographer’s directional apostrophes should be used with extreme care, and should match the font style of the surrounding text (6.117).
- Capital letters used as words, numerals as nouns, abbreviations, and family names are made plural by adding an -s without an apostrophe (7.15).
As, Bs; 3s and 4s; EPZs; the Hamiltons
- Possessive forms of most singular nouns are formed by adding an apostrophe and an -s, even when the noun ends with s, x, or z. For plural nouns, an apostrophe is added after the final -s (7.16-7.17). The major exception to the rule is nouns, particularly the names of places and organizations, plural in form but singular in meaning (i.e., the singular form ends in -s, similar to the plural). In this case, just an apostrophe is added (7.20).
Kansas’s legislature, Chicago’s mayor, Marx’s theories; Camus’s novels, Xerses’s armies, students’ notebooks, the United States’ role in international law, the National Academy of Sciences’ new policy
- Watch for closely linked nouns that act as a single unit in forming a possessive. In this case, the second element takes the possessive form (7.23).
the President and Vice President’s daily meeting, the President’s and Vice President’s daughters
- If an italicized term needs to be used in its plural or possessive form, add -s or -es (and an apostrophe if possessive) to the end without italicizing (7.12). If a quoted term needs to be used in its plural form, add -s or -es to the end inside the quotation marks (7.13). For the possessive of a plural quoted term, rewrite the sentence so that the ’s construction does not need to be used (7.29).
four American Political Science Reviews, the APSR’s articles
How many more “nuclear states” will there be?
- Brackets enclose material that corrects, clarifies, or does not form a part of the surrounding text.
- Brackets can be used to replace an original word or phrase in a quote (6.99).
- Brackets should be used in place of parentheses when already between parentheses (6.101).
- Use colons sparingly, and mostly to emphasize that the second clause amplifies the first clause (6.61). Colons usually precede a phrase, list, or series in text, or a subtitle in a title. With lists and series, only use a colon when the words that introduce it would constitute a complete sentence (6.67).
APSA announces the award winners: not The award winners are:
- In text, do not capitalize the first letter after a colon unless it is a proper noun, is a direct quotation, or is two or more sentences (6.63). For subtitles, however, capitalize the first word after the colon.
- Use colons for ratios. No space should follow the colon for ratios (6.62).
- Colons are used after as follows, the following, and similar expressions (6.64).
- Colons can introduce dialogue or an interview within a manuscript (6.65).
- Avoid excessive comma use. Use commas to clarify the connections between ideas in a sentence.
- Use a comma after the day of the week and before and after the year in text (6.38).
The historic snowstorm hit on Thursday, March 22, 2018, and snarled traffic in Boston for a week.
- Place a comma before and after the state when giving a location.
We went to Reno, Nevada, on August 1, 2008, to see relatives.
- The names of campus-specific institutions can include the campus name set off by a comma (6.39).
University of California, San Diego
- Commas should precede quotes that are a part of a sentence, unless the quote is introduced by a conjunction (6.40).
- Commas should not be used in offsetting Jr., Sr., and roman numerals for personal names or Inc. or Ltd. for businesses (6.43-6.44).
- Phrases that use namely, for example, and that is, are best set apart from the rest of the sentence by em dashes or a semicolon, not commas (6.51).
- Include the comma in numbers more than three digits (e.g., 1,200 and 15,100).
- APSA Style Specific—titles of publications should follow headline-style capitalization except when referencing titles in other languages. For other languages, the original title capitalization style should be followed (e.g., sentence-style capitalization).
- In text, lowercase words are always preferred. When in doubt, opt for lowercase.
- The names of courses and academic subjects should be capitalized if referring to the exact title of the course. However, words that describe the subject or course should not be capitalized.
The renowned professor has taught State and Local Politics for five years. She has taught a research seminar on state and local politics for five years.
- Institutions and specific academic departments are capitalized (8.68).
Syracuse University’s Department of Political Science
- Continents, countries, and cities are always capitalized, with world regions usually being capitalized, but with final preference to the author and editor(s) (8.47).
- Proper nouns and nouns and adjectives derived from proper nouns, usually within names, are capitalized. This is common with ethnic groups, national groups, locations, topographic features, streets, parks, buildings, legislative departments, administrative departments, judicial departments, associations, organizations, parties, alliances, certain time periods, pacts, plans, policies, treaties, acts, programs, awards, prizes, cultural styles, movements, schools of thought (e.g., Keynesianism), historical events, religions, denominations, scriptures, armies, navies, air forces, fleets, names of ships and vehicles, major wars, battles, revolutions, medals, and more.
- Words that should not be capitalized: seasons, generic terms that are not proper names (e.g., he taught at the university for eight years), academic disciplines, the names of degrees (e.g., a bachelor’s degree); generic uses of civic institutions (e.g., Congress, but congressional; President Nixon, but presidential powers; federal government and member of Congress), the word earth.
- Terms denoting socioeconomic classes, sexual orientation, physical characteristics, and generations (except for X,Y, and Z) are lowercase (8.40-8.43).
- In text, the words chapter, part, model, version, appendix, table, and figure are lowercase. Arabic numerals can be used with these indicators, despite the rule to spell out numbers zero through nine in text (8.180).
- Following a colon, do not capitalize the first letter unless it is part of a title, a proper noun, is a direct quotation, or the following text is two or more sentences.
- Em dashes (—) are the longest and most common traditional dash (6.85). Em dashes are used to set off explanatory statements, and can be used instead of parentheses, commas, or colons, especially when an abrupt break in thought is necessary. Do not add spaces on either side of an em dash.
- Use em dashes before the expressions namely, for example, and that is (6.88).
- A question mark or exclamation point may be used just before an em dash, but never a comma, colon, semicolon, or period (unless part of an abbreviation) (6.89).
En dashes (–) are shorter than em dashes but longer than hyphens and are used between ranges of numbers (6.78). It signifies up to and including (or through). En dashes or the from, to construction should be used independently from each other.
1991–1997; PS: Political Science & Politics 44(2): 213–15.
The meeting is scheduled February 25–28, 2019. Will you stop by my office from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. tonight?
- An en dash can signify to for scores and directions.
The London–Paris train leaves at two o’clock.
- Occasionally, en dashes should be used in text in place of hyphens to connect compound adjectives when one element is an open compound, or both are hyphenated compounds (6.80). This should be used sparingly, and rewriting the sentence is always preferred. Abbreviated open compounds are treated as a single word, so a hyphen should be used.
student-adviser–student dynamics; United States–Canadian relations but US-Canadian relations
- If an institution uses an en dash to indicate its campus location, the en dash should be respected, instead of being changed to a comma (6.81).
University of Wisconsin–Madison; but University of California, Riverside.
- Hyphens should be used with compound words and between noninclusive numbers (e.g., a long-digit zip code or telephone number). See the dedicated subsection on compounds.
- An ellipses, a series of three periods set apart by a singular space each, is used to signal the omission of a word, phrase, paragraph, or more that is considered irrelevant to the point being made (13.50).
- A period is added before an ellipses to indicate the omission of the end of a sentence, an entire sentence, or entire paragraphs (13.53, 13.56). The first word to follow the period and ellipses combination is capitalized if it begins a new grammatical sentence (13.54).
- Use italics for emphasizing key terms in manuscripts. All caps, boldface, and underscore should be avoided in manuscript writing as those font styles may need to be changed to fit a journal’s style (7.51-7.52).
- Italics are also used for words in another language, words used as terms, and titles of works (7.49).
- Most Latin expressions (e.g., ex officio, ad nauseam, etc.) have been assimilated and are therefore not italicized.
- Use italics for letters used in mathematical equations (e.g., 3x + y).
- Words not used functionally but referred to as words or terms themselves can utilize italics or quotation marks (7.63). This site utilizes italics.
Obamacare has become an oft-used nickname for the Affordable Care Act.
- In text, a variable appearing in a table or figure in the manuscript is italicized (e.g., age, gender, education).
- Legal cases are italicized when mentioned in text, including v. (8.82).
Miranda v. Arizona
- Terms normally italicized in running text should take reversed italics if appearing within an already italicized font style (14.95).
- Parentheses are stronger than commas and similar to em dashes. They can set off text with no grammatical relationship to the rest of the sentence (6.95).
- They are used to enclose definitions of unfamiliar terms, translations, or, in already-translated text, the original terms (6.96).
- Parentheses within parentheses should be replaced with brackets (6.97).
- Directional quotation marks should be used in text, not unidirectional quotation marks. Check that the word processor’s settings are not set incorrectly.
- Words not used functionally but referred to as words themselves can utilize italics or quotation marks (7.63). This site utilizes italics. Omit quotation marks if the phrase so-called precedes the term (e.g., so-called bias).
- An opening quotation mark preceding a drop cap or raised initial should be omitted for the letter to stand as the drop cap (13.37).
- Scare quotes indicate that a term is used in a nonstandard, ironic, or other special sense (7.57). Use them sparingly.
He “worked” on his manuscript last night.
- Use of single quotation marks as a form of emphasis is discouraged, stick with italics, double quotation marks, and parentheses (7.58).
- Slashes can replace or and occasionally and within text, or can be used to signify alternatives. However they should be avoided in formal text unless associated with formal theory (6.106).
- Semicolons connect two independent clauses that are closely related.
Achieving recognition is a difficult task; failure to be heard is common.
- A semicolon can precede the following conjunctive adverbs connecting one independent clause to another: however, thus, hence, indeed, accordingly, besides, and therefore (6.57).
- When elements in a series or list are complex enough to contain their own internal punctuation, semicolons should be used to separate them (6.60).
We have recognized the multiplicity of meanings otherwise associated with politics: Republican or Democrat; Tea Party, Libertarian, Blue Dog Coalition; far-left or far-right; conservative or socialist.