Punctuation Clusters

Occasionally, you’ll come across an instance that seems to require multiple punctuation marks right next to each other. Sometimes you need to keep all the marks, but other times, you should leave some out.

  • You should never use more than one ending punctuation mark in a row (period, question mark exclamation point). When quoting a question, you would end with a question mark, not a question mark and a period:
    • Carlos leaned forward and asked, “Did you get the answer to number six?”
  • If an abbreviation, like etc., ends a sentence, you should only use one period.
    • I think we’ll have enough food. Mary bought the whole store: chips, soda, candy, cereal, etc.
  • However, you can place a comma immediately after a period, as you can see above with etc.
  • Periods and parentheses can also appear right next to each other. Sometimes the period comes after the closing parenthesis (as you can see in the first bullet), but sometimes it appears inside the parentheses. (This is an example of a sentence where the period falls within the parentheses.) We talked about this in Parentheses.


Identify punctuation errors in the following sentences. Type the corrected sentences in the text frame below:

  1. Dana had a lot of skills: reading, writing, note-taking, listening, etc..
  2. My sister looked over and asked, “Why do you have so many grapes in the shopping cart?.”
  3. Lucinda was the reigning Spring Queen (i.e. she had won the student vote at the last spring dance).