Punctuation

Q. In Canada we have a province that is almost always abbreviated as B.C.. When using it at the end of a sentence do you add the period (as I just did), or leave it as is? Without the period, it looks like a run-on sentence, but with the period it looks like too many dots.

Q. Where does punctuation fall in the context of botanical varieties, which are treated with single quotation marks? I have been assiduously changing commas that are inside the final single quote, moving them outside: Excellent garden varieties include Ceanothus ‘dark star’, ‘Yankee Point’, and ‘Joyce Coulter’. But I’m now starting to have doubts.

Q. In the initial manuscript stage (submitted by hard copy, if it matters), is it preferable to include page numbers or not, considering that they would be useful for editors’ reference but do not reflect the actual page numbers used for publication? And if page numbers are preferred, where do they go? Should the first page be numbered? Should pages with endnotes? Bibliography?

Q. Oh, English-language gurus, is it ever proper to put a question mark and an exclamation mark at the end of a sentence in formal writing? This author is giving me a fit with some of her overkill emphases, and now there is this sentence that has both marks at the end. My everlasting gratitude for letting me know what I should tell this person.

Q. Does the following sentence require a question mark or can it be given a period? Would you please make sure she gets a letter for her two scarves, ten stocking caps, men’s clothing, and household items brought in on October 30 of last year.

Q. Our writing department uses Chicago’s style of putting spaces between the periods in ellipses. The graphic designers argue that in typesetting, the space is much smaller, and so use the ellipses character that is built into our publishing software. Who is correct?

Q. Is it always necessary to use an en dash while it is representing a range of numbers (15–30)?

Q. I’m teaching a class at the university after a long break and have discovered that most of my students are putting commas or other punctuation outside quotes rather than inside. Is either correct?

Q. Dear CMOS, I am working on a book for children that uses both Spanish and English. CMOS 7.50 notes that translations appear in quotation marks or parentheses, and examples show commas inside the quotation marks. However, I have a sentence that ends with a translated word and an exclamation point. Would the exclamation point (and in other cases, the question mark) come before or after the last quotation mark? The exclamation point must be included. The sentence currently reads: The Spanish word for puzzle means “head breaker!”

Q. Where does the second comma belong in this phrase: my cousin, Joseph’s son? Is it my cousin, Joseph’s, son? But you wouldn’t say “my cousin son.” Rather it should be “my cousin’s son.”