Use accents on French proper names, including place names, and in the instances (such as raison d’être) when French common words are not translated into English. Do not use accents on capital letters. This rule applies for all foreign languages as well. Include all accents.


Avoid using the ampersand symbol (&) unless it is part of a formal name of a group or unit on campus.

  • Commerce & Engineering Environmental Conference (CEEC)
  • Athletics & Recreation


  • Faculty of Arts and Science

In general, faculties, schools, departments, and groups should move should move from the use of an ampersand to the word 'and' wherever possible.


Avoid using an apostrophe to indicate a plural acronym or decade

  • 1930s, URLs (not 1930’s, URL’s)


Queen’s University is already a possessive – do not add another ’s.

  • Officials at other universities speak highly of Queen’s teaching and learning resources.

** Try to avoid using Queen’s in this context as much as possible. Rewrite the sentence instead.

  • Officials at other universities speak highly of the teaching and learning resources at Queen’s.

Names or words ending in s (or an s sound) generally take an ’s.

  • the boss’s notebook; Chris’s pen; Strauss’s opera

But names or words ending with a zzz sound take only an apostrophe.

  • Mr. Watts’ house; the Jones’ car; Socrates’ plays


Colons are used to introduce a list, quotation or statement.

  • The committee members are: Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane; Mark Green, Provost and Vice-Principal, Academic; and Jill Scott, Associate Vice-Principal, International.
  • Principal Daniel Woolf said in 2012: “Queen’s is committed to creating a greener community for its students, faculty, and staff, and banning bottled water sales is a positive step – both in action and awareness – toward that goal.”
  • The committee was clear in its decision: no bottled water sales on campus.


Use an ellipsis … to reflect an omission in the text. Include a space before and after the ellipsis. When used at the end of a sentence, no further punctuation is needed.

Hyphens and Dashes

A hyphen is used to connect two words to form a compound word. Dashes (en dash and em dash) are used to separate words or phrases within a sentence.


Hyphenate compound modifiers preceding a noun but not if the meaning is clear because of common usage of the term.

  • a post-secondary institution, a closed-door session, a second-period goal, time-sensitive material, a career-related question, full-time work, second-year program


  • a high school student, a human resource matter, a sales tax increase, a savings bank deposit

Do not hyphenate adverbs ending in –ly.

  • a highly anticipated event; a brightly lit auditorium

Use a hyphen when the word following the prefix begins with the same vowel as the word with which the prefix ends, and in other instances to avoid confusion.

  • co-ordinate, co-ordinator, co-operation, pre-existing, pre-empt, co-editor, co-chair

Use a hyphen to indicate negative temperatures.

  • -8 C


An em dash (—) is longer than a hyphen or an en dash. Use an em dash with spaces before and after to set off a phrase within a sentence, but use sparingly as overuse creates messy copy.

To type the em dash:

  • PC: Alt + 0151
  • Mac: Option + shift + -

An en dash (–) is used in date, time, or number ranges.

  • Pages 18–25
  • 8:30 am–5 pm

To type the en dash:

  • PC: Alt + 0150
  • Mac: Option + –


Use parentheses, or brackets, sparingly, when other punctuation is not sufficient.

Parentheses are used to enclose non-essential information, equivalents, or translations.

Queen’s editorial style puts professors’ departments in parentheses following their name:

  • John Smol (Biology)
  • Will Kymlicka (Philosophy)

If parentheses appear at the end of a sentence, terminal punctuation goes outside the closing parentheses. Punctuation that applies only to the information in the parentheses goes inside the parentheses.

Periods and Commas

Place periods and commas within quotation marks.

Queen's prefers the Oxford comma or serial comma. Use the comma after the penultimate item in a list of three or more items before and or or.

  • For the Record provides postings of appointment, committee, grant, award, PhD examination, and other notices.
  • Other lunch-and-learn sessions will be held throughout the winter on topics such as personal finances, healthy eating habits, caring for the aging, and getting restful sleep.
  • The students played several sports, including basketball, volleyball, track and field, and tennis.

Quotation Marks

Use double quotation marks for a direct quote, a partial quote within a sentence, or to single out a “special” word within a sentence (for example: Students hold a special “pi-ñata” at Pi Day celebrations.). Use single quotation marks for quotes within quotes. Use single quotation marks in headlines and sub-heads (decks).


Use one space, not two, between the end punctuation of one sentence and the beginning of the next.