For our purposes, apostrophes will more likely be used to denote possessives. This gets confusing sometimes when a word already ends in “-s”, so just refer to the following rule and examples: If the word already ends in “-s” and is singular, you add an apostrophe+s. If the word ends in an s and is plural, just add an apostrophe.
- The investor read John’s research.
- The investor read Angus’s research.
- The research circulated around investors’ offices.
Use a colon when you’re about to list a number of things.
- George picked three toppings for his salad: corn, cherry tomatoes, and pumpkin seeds.
You can also use a colon to join two related phrases. If a complete sentence follows the colon, capitalise the first word.
- The investment research world faces a choice: It can either adapt to the changes brought about by MiFID II, or it can wither away.
- The investment research world faces a choice: adapt to changes or wither away.
When writing a list of things in a sentence, use the so-called Oxford comma.
- Yes: David writes about technology, healthcare, and finance.
- No: David writes about technology, healthcare and finance.
Use commas sparingly. It can be tempting to put them in every place where you pause for breath when reading a sentence out loud but that’s not always good advice. Fewer commas are generally better – if you find yourself needing a lot of commas in your sentence, try breaking it up into shorter sentences.
Dashes and hyphens
Use a hyphen (-) without spaces on either side to link words into single phrase, or to indicate a span or range.
- Yes: first-time user
- Yes: solar-powered vehicle
- Yes: well-connected investor
- Yes: Monday-Friday
- No: first time user
- No: solar powered vehicle
- No: well connected investor
Ellipses (…) are not really useful to us, as they usually indicate narrative elements or drama (like trailing off or indicating despair or confusion). Insight Providers sometimes use them when they need more colour in their personal commentary but we should be wary of doing the same.
Ellipses, in brackets, can be used to show that you’re omitting words in a quote.
- “Dr. King touched all the themes of the day, only better than anybody else. […] He sent the crowd away feeling that the long journey had been worthwhile.”
Full stops go inside quotation marks when they are part of the quotation, and outside when the quotation is not a full sentence. They go outside parentheses when the parenthetical is part of a larger sentence, and inside parentheses when the parenthetical stands alone.
- Angus said, “ASEAN is full of rising economies.”
- Analysts refer to the impact of MiFID II on research fees as an “unbundling”.
After a full stop, leave only a single space before the next sentence.
Like full stops, question marks go inside quotation marks if they’re part of the quote, outside the quotation if not a full sentence. They go outside parentheses when the parenthetical is part of a larger sentence, and inside parentheses when the parenthetical stands alone.
Use exclamation marks sparingly, and never more than one at a time. On the (extremely) rare occasion you are called upon to use more than one at a time, go with three. Do not go with just two. When in doubt, avoid!
Exclamation marks go inside quotation marks. Like full stops and question marks, they go outside parentheses when the parenthetical is part of a larger sentence, and inside parentheses when the parenthetical stands alone.
Use quotes to refer to words and letters, titles of short works (like articles and poems), and direct quotations.
Full stops, exclamation marks, commas, and question marks go within quotation marks if they’re part of the quotation. If they’re part of a sentence that includes a quotation, they go outside the quote.
Use single quotation marks for quotes within quotes.
- Elon Musk said, “We’re living in a simulation.”
- Elon Musk expressed the opinion that we are “living in a simulation”.
- Elon Musk asked, “Are we living in a simulation?”
- Is Elon Musk serious when he says we’re “living in a simulation”?
- Elon Musk said, “It’s tough to know if we’re living in a ‘simulation’.”
Ah, the bane of writers the world over. I recommend avoiding semicolons. Their primary purpose is to connect long sentences together and help one flow into the other. We generally want to avoid long sentences anyway. Where you’re tempted to use a semicolon, consider instead an em dash (hyphen separated by two spaces) or, better yet, shorter sentences.
Don’t use ampersands unless one is part of a company or brand name. Exceptions can be made for headlines and social media posts when there are space constraints.
- Yes: They specialise in event-driven and IPO research
- No: They specialise in event-driven & IPO research
- Yes: Standard & Poor’s