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Style Manual

Full stops

A full stop marks the end of a sentence, unless it is a question or exclamation. Users need them to scan text and to recognise decimal values.

Complete a sentence with a full stop

Full stops mark the end of a sentence that is not a question or an exclamation. 

Following the same rule, use full stops at the end of the last item in a list that’s made up of sentence fragments.

Example

The committee met yesterday. It discussed:

  • office space
  • working hours
  • managers’ salaries.

Use the final full stop because this type of list is a sentence presented as points to make it easier to read.  

Use full stops with some numbers and shortened forms

Also use full stops:

Don’t use full stops with contractions or most abbreviations.

Don’t end web or email addresses with full stops

Do not use a full stop after a web or email address if it’s part of a sentence fragment or on a line by itself.

Write full stops in email and web addresses when you use the full form rather than link text (for example, ‘dfat.gov.au’ instead of linking ‘the DFAT website’).

Ensure link text doesn’t include a full stop

Use full stops at the end of sentences with link text, but don’t include the full stop in the link itself.

Correct

The People team manages the add a new employee form.

Incorrect

The People team manages the add a new employee form.

Write headings, measurements and captions without full stops

Don’t use full stops in:

Full stops do not go after:

Don’t add a full stop after hashtags, emojis or handles

Use correct punctuation in government social media. You don’t need a full stop if your post ends in:

  • a web address (URL)
  • a tag or handle
  • a hashtag
  • an emoji
  • a sentence fragment.

Punctuate text messages (SMS) correctly

In government text messages, use correct punctuation and grammar to avoid ambiguity. Correct writing shows people that the text is authoritative and trustworthy.

Include a full stop at the end of a text message if it finishes with a sentence. Don’t include a full stop if the message ends with a fragment or sign off.

Example

Warning: there is a high probability of hail in your area. Please take appropriate precautions and stay safe. Time sent: 4:30 pm AEST

Release notes

The digital edition consolidates information on full stops with a focus on online content. It removes the requirement to use full stops with abbreviations. Evidence from Australian corpora supports this change. It is consistent with guidance to use minimal punctuation.

The sixth edition mentions full stops in several sections including punctuation, abbreviations, numbers and citations.

The Content Guide had brief information about the full stop in several sections. It advised against using a full stop after an email address or bare URL to end a sentence. The digital edition advises to omit a full stop when the email address or bare URL is a fragment or on a line by itself (such as in an email signature block).

About this page

References

Dixon JC and Bolitho B (2005–2019) Course notes and exercises: Editing and proofreading for the workplace, Centre for Continuing Education, Australian National University, Canberra.

Crystal D (11 June 2016) ‘On the reported death of the full-stop / period’, DCblog, accessed 20 December 2019.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (15 March 2020) ‘A slice of paradise. When visiting islands and cays, tread …’ [Facebook post], Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, accessed 16 May 2020.

Gunraj DN, Drumm-Hewitt AM, Dashow EM, Upadhyay SSN and Klin C (2016) ‘Texting insincerely: the role of the period in text messaging’, Computers in Human Behavior, 55(B):1067–1075, doi:10.1016/j.chb.2015.11.003.

Houghton KJ, Upadhyay SSN and Klin C (2018) ‘Punctuation in text messages may convey abruptness. Period’, Computers in Human Behavior, 80(C):112–121, doi:10.1016/j.chb.2017.10.044.

Murphy EM with Cadman H (2014) Effective writing: plain English at work, 2nd edn, Lacuna, Westgate.

Seely J (2001) Oxford everyday grammar, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Stilman A (2004) Grammatically correct, Writer’s Digest Books, Ohio.

Stone A and Ford R (2017) ‘Chasing after a century of punctuation’, Procedia Computer Science, 118:15–21, doi:0.1016/j.procs.2017.11.144.

Truss L (2003) Eats, shoots and leaves: the zero tolerance approach to punctuation, Profile Books, London.

Wright EM (2019) Pragmatic functionality of punctuation on Twitter [master’s thesis], University of Kentucky, accessed 21 December 2020.

This page was updated Monday 21 September 2020.

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