Punctuation & Grammar

Punctuation is just as important as word accuracy when it comes to captioning. Good punctuation is crucial to captioning because the text only appears for a few seconds at most, so the viewer needs a clear and readable stream of text to make sense of what they’re seeing. Missing punctuation, or unnecessary punctuation, can be confusing and misleading.

  • End-of-sentence punctuation – Just like deciding when to split your captions, it’s important to make informed choices about what punctuation to use, where. Keep concepts together in a single sentence, separating clauses appropriately and using grammatically correct punctuation marks.
  • Punctuate with your eyes, not your ears – It’s very easy to put punctuation marks in unnecessary places when the person talking pauses or changes the inflection of their voice. People speaking don’t always pause at grammatically correct places, however, so you need to keep an eye on what you’re writing and judge whether the punctuation makes sense within the sentence. Not every caption needs a full stop or a comma at the end either.
Ai-Media Punctuation standards

,

COMMA

Used when listing, to separate clauses, after filler words, before quotes and when addressing someone.

No space before and one space after.

Eg. That’s great, thanks. Can I have salmon, asparagus and eggs, please?

It was really lovely to see you, Nathan, I hope we can catch up again sometime.

. ? !

PERIOD, QUESTION MARK, EXCLAMATION MARK

Used at the end of whole sentences.

No space before and one space after.

Eg. What did you say? I said goodbye! Oh, OK. Have fun tonight.

APOSTROPHE

Used in contractions and to indicate a possessive.

No space before or after.

Eg. That cats cute. Not all cats are as cute. Mikes cat is ugly. Its not its fault.

‘ ’

INVERTED COMMAS

Use for short quotes, answers and media titles.

Wrap words at the beginning and the end of the quote.

Eg. The answer is A.

He said OK and went on captioning The Young and the Restless.

“ ”

DOUBLE QUOTATION MARKS

Use for long and direct quotes.

Wrap words at beginning and end of the quote.

Eg. She said, Use double quotes when quoting poems, prose or conversation.

DASH or HYPHEN

Use for additions or asides.

Use a space before and a space after.

Eg. It’s sunny today I thought it was going to rain. I didn’t bring my umbrella

I always forget to bring it so I’m glad the weather’s fine.

:

COLON

Used to indicate when something is being spoken which appears in the media (or as part of a speaker label). Eg. LECTURER: So, as you can see here, (READS SLIDE):

ELLIPSIS

Use when there is a significant pause, or interruption by another speaker. Use only when necessary. Eg. LECTURER: I thought I saw Never mind, what were we

STUDENT: You were showing us the assignment.

; [ ]

SEMICOLON; SQUARE BRACKETS

Not used in Ai-Media captions N/A

If you’re still not sure how to punctuate, there are great online resources available to practice and learn more about grammar, such as GrammarBook.com or Oxford Dictionaries.

More questions? See our Recorded Captioning Style Guide.

Updated on September 7, 2018

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