The serial comma is the comma placed immediately before the coordinating conjunction (e.g. “and” and “or”) of a list of enumerated words.

The Philippines, Japan, and the United States. (With serial comma)

The Philippines, Japan and the United States. (Without serial comma)

*This guide recommends the use of the serial comma for the sake of clarity.

I dedicate this to my parents, President Aquino and God. (Your parents are not President Aquino and God.)

*However, there are common expressions and names that are joined by and, which, in this case, should not be separated commas.

Marty impressed his girl by giving her a rose, a pearl necklace, and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

The rescue team combed through the rubble, the chambers, and every nook and cranny of the razed factory.

*The phrase “as well” should not be treated as an equivalent to and (The Chicago Manual of Style: 16th Edition, p. 312).

Incorrect: The cellists, violinists, bassists, as well as the harpists suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome.

Correct: The cellists, violinists, and bassists, as well as the harpists suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome.

Hyphens are used to connect phrasal adjectives: two words or more that collectively modify or describe another, which comes after. For example, in the phrase “poverty-stricken provinces,” “poverty-stricken” describes provinces.

The newly approved bill will target the poverty-stricken provinces.

Does China still exercise the one-child policy?

Anderson, the bare-knuckle Jiujitsu fighter, won his third match by submission.

*For prefixed and compound words, use the variant that is not hyphenated. The same rule applies with compound words that have non-hyphenated variants.


An en dash (–) is used to indicate range. For example, “from 24 to 50” may be written as “24–50.”

Em dashes (—) may replace commas, parentheses, and colons, in sequestering parenthetical phrases. They emphasize a break or an explanatory expression in a sentence.

The three greatest bassists—Pastorius, Bailey, and Wooten—made it easy for me to love jazz.

Joe Satriani strapped on his “weapon of choice”—a silver custom-made guitar.

The syncopated flashing lights, the rowdy mosh pit, the screams—none made Guthrie miss a note.

Colons are used to introduce a list of specifics or items in sentences.

The glove compartment contained three items: a torchlight, a .22 caliber pistol, and a black trash bag.

To introduce subtitles

Nation, Self and Citizenship: An Invitation to Philippine Sociology

A History of the Philippines: From Indios Bravos to Filipinos

On Independent Clauses following a Colon
If a clause following a colon is an independent clause, capitalize the first word.

Alam n’yo, noong araw po ay iniisip ko: Ano kaya ang sasabihin ng nanay ko ‘pag dumating ang panahon na kailangan siyang magsalita sa 25th anniversary?

Pagkatapos mapakinggan ang mga kuwento ng People Power veterans; pagkatapos sariwain ang mga tagpo ng rebolusyon mula sa mga libro, dokumentaryo, at larawan; pagkatapos muling umawit ng mga kantang makabayan; pagkatapos paliparin ang mga dilaw na lobo sa kalangitan, ang tanong: Pagkatapos ng linggong ito, ano na nga ba ang magiging halaga ng EDSA sa bawat isa?

Punctuation marks after quoted text should be placed within the quotation marks. Commas that are followed by attributive statements should be placed inside the quotation marks as well. Only colons (:) and semicolons (;) are written outside the quotation marks. This guide prescribes the use of American double quotation marks, as opposed to the UK single.

“I did not see it coming,” he said.

If a word is used beyond its usual meaning, use quotation marks.

He sold me the “new” 1978 Mustang.

Silva “danced” his way through the third round.

For quoted words and phrases within a quoted text, use single quotation marks.

“To say that ‘I mean what I say’ is the same as ‘I say what I mean’ is to be as confused as Alice at the Mad Hatter’s tea party.”

Brackets are usually used in transcriptions for silent editing. These are also used in transcriptions that have poor recording. In this case, the editor resorts to suggesting words that can complete a statement. Brackets are used to indicate that the editor has added a particular word or rephrased a statement in a transcription.

Note: Be extremely conscious of the context of the statement in the transcription when silent editing.

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