Amendments to My 4 Fundamental Laws of Punctuation

Some special cases and extensions.

1st and 3rd Laws Amended: Sentence Terminators

Sentences are terminated by one of three punctuation marks: period (.), question mark (?) or exclamation mark (!).

Notable exceptions include the use of the colon (:) to terminate a paragraph before a list as in this example:

The first item.
The second item.

Try to avoid needless spaces after the last sentence in a paragraph

Note: The items in a bulleted list and titles are not terminated using punctuation.

When I Use Exclamation Marks

To express extreme emotion!

I typically relegate exclamation marks to dialog:

“Don’t you dare!” she exclaimed.

2nd Law Expanded Upon: Use Commas to Insert Pauses into Sentences

In this subchapter, I want to demonstrate four specific instances in which to use commas to insert pauses into sentences. I want you to read these sentences out loud so you can hear the pauses being inserted.

Sentence Lead Ins:

First, there was the weather. To be fair, it wasn’t that bad. In fact, it was
pretty good.

These are all little pre-sentence qualifiers that give you a hint as to what the sentence is going to say.


He won the first, second and final race of the day!

Strunk and White and the Oxford comma versus the newer Chicago style.

Parenthetical expressions:

Sir Anthony, a notorious womanizer, was the last to arrive at the party.

Parenthetical expressions sound to me as though they’re being whispered in the middle of a sentence. You could use parenthesis to enclose these though I feel parenthesis look out of place in fiction writing.


 “You must be mistaken,” Audrey exclaimed.

When you add who’s speaking, you terminate the quoted statement with a comma instead of a period.