Printable Punctuation Rules Cheat Sheet

Read these two sentences. 

  1. Slow people working.
  2. Slow. People working. 

These are two sentences with the same words but different meanings. What made all the difference? Your mind automatically read these two sentences differently because of the punctuation.

Punctuation marks, as they are commonly known, help to add emphasis or pauses in ideas or thoughts that are depicted in the text. Without correctly placed commas, periods and semicolons, the meaning becomes much more difficult to decipher. In the English language, punctuation marks play an important role in communicating meanings. 

The following post gives an insight into the rules of punctuation and a cheat sheet to help you with the same. 

Important punctuation rules you must know about. 

Punctuation is essential and is used to convey and clarify the meaning of written language. Getting punctuation wrong can change the entire meaning of a sentence.

So, how do we know if we are getting punctuation right or wrong?

Here are some simple rules for using punctuation marks in English. 

1. The Period

Use a period to end a statement, mild command, or indirect question, and after most abbreviations. 

2. The Question Mark 

Use a question mark after a direct question.

3. The Comma 

Use the comma to separate items in a series. 

4. The Semicolon 

Use a semicolon to separate independent clauses in a sentence and to separate items in a series when commas are used as well

5. The Colon 

Use a colon to call attention to the words that follow it.

6. The Apostrophe

 Use the apostrophe to indicate possession, mark contractions, and pluralize letters or numbers.

7. The Quotation Mark 

Use quotation marks to enclose direct quotes and around titles of short works.

Cheat sheet for punctuation rules

The correct punctuations in English help you articulate the ideas clearly, and accurately and fosters the understanding of the message. It gives the text a logical structure, making it easier to read and comprehend. There are many punctuations and the wrong usage can alter the meaning of the sentence. Therefore it becomes important to use them correctly.

Cheat sheet to help you with the right usage of punctuation. 

1. The period or the full stop (.)

The period or the full stop (.)  is used to finish or end sentences. Use it when you want to end the sentence.

  • I am going home.
  • This is a cheat sheet. 

2. The question mark (?)

The question mark (?) is always placed at the end of a question.

  • What is your favorite color? 
  • Will you write a story?

3. Double quotation marks (“)

Double quotation marks (“) are used to directly and exactly quote the words of someone and for words used as quotes. 

  • “I was amazed to see such a beautiful garden,” Mother said. 
  • The words “affect” and “effect” are often confused. 

4. Colon (:)

A colon is used to introduce anything: words, phrases, lists, or quotations. 

  • The hungry man had only one thing on his mind: peanut butter sandwiches. 
  • The man finished eating in seconds: “ I’ll never get such food again,”he said. 

5. Comma (,)

Use a comma to set apart introductory words, clauses (in a complex sentence with a dependent clause first), and phrases.

  • Honestly, it’s cold. 
  • To win the game, he needed skill and luck. 

To separate items in a series or a list 

  • I ate pizza, vegetables and a cupcake. 

To set off quotations. 

  • “All I know about grammar,” said Joan, “ is its infinite power.”

6. Apostrophe (‘)

An apostrophe can be used for contractions (or a shortened version of a word):

  • Let’s go to the Bahamas next weekend.

Apostrophes are also used in possessives.

  • Evelyn’s house was rented out for the holidays.

7. Dashes

There are two types of dashes: en dashes and em dashes. En dashes (–) represent a range between numbers, dates, and times. They also establish a relationship between words and ideas.

  • We could not meet during the 2020–2021 school year.
  • Clark went to the Miami Heat–Boston Celtics game. 

Em dashes (—) are extremely versatile and can replace commas, colons, and parentheses. Like colons, they can help add emphasis.

  • We visited several countries this summer—Spain, Ireland, Germany, and Norway

8. Exclamation point (!)

An exclamation point is found at the end of a sentence and adds emphasis or indicates something surprising.

  • Congratulations! I knew you would win first place.
  • Hurrah! We are home. 

9. Parenthesis ( )

Parentheses (singular: parenthesis) allow the writers to add more information.

  • Both women (who coincidentally came from the same city) arrived in the morning. 

10. Ellipsis  (…)

An ellipsis (plural form is ellipses) is three dots that indicate an omission. It’s often used in journalistic writing for quoted materials. It also indicates a pause and a sentence fading off. 

  • A lot was said during the meeting. Most of it seemed untrue…It is not acceptable. 

11. Hyphen (-)

Hyphens have several uses. They’re commonly used to join compound words, join adjectives before a noun, and indicate fractions. Example:

  • We missed our check-in and had to reschedule the entire trip.
  • Karen wanted nothing more than to deliver a well-prepared project.
Punctuation Rules Cheat Sheet pdf

How can students use this cheat sheet? 

A cheat sheet can be of help to children who are unsure of the punctuation they use or are learning to use them. By providing them with a list to refer to, students can make use of it while learning the usage of punctuation. It will also serve as a reference guide for the rules of punctuation. 

  • The cheat sheet helps to read and recollect previously learned information quickly
  • The cheat sheet also comes in handy when one has to refer to something immediately. 
  •  It helps to identify the punctuation to be used as the student can go through the cited examples. 
  • Cheat sheets are the reference cards one needs while studying or writing and need help. 
  • Studies suggest that  To make the cheat sheets, students need to read the class material, process information actively, and select, organize, and prioritize the content for the cheat sheets which have a positive correlation with their exam performances. 


To wrap up, it is not wrong to say that one of the most difficult parts of learning English is understanding how to properly use punctuation. Because there are so many, it can be easy to forget what each one does while you are still learning. Having a cheat sheet help you remember it all and can really help cut down on your learning time.

Cheat sheets are one of the most popular ways to learn new things, whether it be a punctuation of a language or a mathematical formula. They can help you learn faster, and they’re also great for test-taking. Cheat sheets take all of the confusion out of learning and memorization.

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