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Punctuation Marks for Achieving Emphasis

Summary:

This handout provides information on visual and textual devices for adding emphasis to your writing including textual formatting, punctuation, sentence structure, and the arrangement of words.

Some punctuation marks prompt the reader to give a word or sentence more than usual emphasis. For example, a command with a period does not evoke the same emphatic response as the same command with an exclamation mark.

Watch out!

A dash or colon has more emphatic force than a comma.

The employees were surprised by the decision, which was not to change company policy.

The employees were surprised by the decision—no change in company policy.

The employees were surprised by the decision: no change in company policy.

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Copyright ©1995-2018 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.