skip to page contentskip to navigation menuWriting for University Courses - Punctuation
Advice Practice
Punctuation Menu | Main Menu | Help | Contents List | Definitions | Print Guide

Starter Level menu

" '

( )

What effect does incorrect punctuation have?

Starter Level Checklist

Show Development Level menu

Starter Level Advice

. Full stop or dot

(In American English the full stop is called the period.)

The following describes four main uses for the full stop. A further use is described in the Development Level.

To end a sentence

A full stop shows the end of a sentence which is a statement (not a question). You start the next sentence with a capital letter. Leaving the full stop out at the end of a sentence causes confusion.


*There is an increasing mix of students at university in the 1960s most university students were aged 18-21.
This is confusing. It looks like one sentence, but the first part is in the present, the second is in the past. Does in the 1960s belong to the words before it or after it?

Here is where there should be another full stop. This makes it clearer.
There is an increasing mix of students at university. In the 1960s most university students were aged 18-21.

For further help see Sentences Advice in the Main Rules of Written English.

In abbreviations



Note. Most large organisations have what is known as a 'house style' i.e. a common way they present written work (word-processed; email). In most 'house styles' it is now usual to leave full stops out of abbreviations. Some tutors will not mind if you leave full-stops out of abbreviations, but others will. In academic work it is safest always to put them in.

In a list of references

You put a full stop after a person's initial and after a title.

For more guidance on referencing, go to References and Resources in the Main Menu for a link to 'Key Skills Online', which contains a section on referencing.


OSHIMA, A. and HOGUE, A. (1999). Writing academic English. Longman.

In URLs or email addresses

URLs are the titles of pages on the web.

URLs and email addresses use full stops between some elements and they must be in the right place. If they are in the wrong place the URL or email address will not work. In your written work, you may need to give URLs in a list of references.


© Learning & Teaching Institute, Sheffield Hallam University 2004