United Nations Editorial Manual Online
The following is a brief guide to United Nations usage with regard to punctuation. It is not a comprehensive guide to the rules of punctuation in English. Works which may be consulted on the subject are listed in Sources of information/Print. Other sources include:
Note: For punctuation in quotations, see Editorial guidelines/Style/Quotations.
An apostrophe (‘s or s’) is not used with an abbreviation or acronym, the name of a country, or the name of an organization, for example:
A colon is used to introduce a quotation or a text table.
The final comma before and is not normally used in United Nations documents. The practice is to write “organs, organizations and bodies”, not “organs, organizations, and bodies”; and “disarmament, demobilization, rehabilitation and reintegration”, not “disarmament, demobilization, rehabilitation, and reintegration”.
The chief exception to this practice is in the resolutions of the principal organs. When a paragraph contains several distinct decisions of the organ in question, each introduced by a verb, these are separated by commas, for example:
In other texts, the final comma may sometimes have to be included for the sake of clarity, for instance in an enumeration comprising lengthy or complex elements.
In a sentence such as the following, eliminating the final comma may obscure the meaning:
Commas with “in particular”
A comma is not necessary after “in particular” if it would separate the phrase from the person or thing to which it applies.
A semicolon is normally used at the end of a subparagraph, both in resolutions and in reports.
With bullets, the preferred style is no punctuation or a full stop.
For examples of the use of semicolons and bullets, see Editorial guidelines/Format/Paragraphs and subparagraphs and Basic documents/Resolutions and other formal decisions of United Nations organs.
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