The point of punctuation is to add clarity to a sentence. In general, err on the side of simple sentences that don’t require much punctuation to be understood. If a sentence is so complex that it becomes cluttered with punctuation marks, you probably need to rewrite it.


Use sparingly in headlines/titles and only when connecting two words that are commonly paired together. Headline usage depends on context, length of headline and natural connection of the words or phrases. Only use the word “and” in subheadlines, section headers or body copy.


The most common use of a colon is to introduce a list of items, either in body copy or a bullet/numbered list. It can also be used to introduce dialogue or a web link. Capitalize the first word after a colon only if it is a proper noun or the start of a complete sentence.


DocuSign follows AP Style, preferring not to use the Oxford (or serial) comma.

Use commas to separate items in a series when there are three or more items, but do not use a comma before the conjunction (“and,” “or,” etc.) at the end of a series. Exceptions to this rule can be made to avoid confusion or if the final item in the series already contains a conjunction.

Securely send, sign and notarize critical agreements remotely with DocuSign Notary.
Securely send, sign, and notarize critical agreements remotely with DocuSign Notary.
Example of exception (items already contains a conjunction):
I had orange juice, toast, and biscuits and gravy for breakfast.
I had orange juice, toast and biscuits and gravy for breakfast.


An ellipsis consists of three periods with no spaces between them and a space before and after ( … ). Use ellipses only to indicate that words have been removed, never to indicate that a thought is trailing off.

En dashes

Do not use en dashes in DocuSign copy.

Em dashes

An em dash creates an abrupt change in thought in the middle of a sentence. Use the em dash sparingly. In most cases a comma will do. There should not be spaces between the em dash and the words before and after it.

Don’t use a single hyphen (-) or double hyphen (--) instead of an em dash. To make an em dash on a Mac, type shift, option and the hyphen key together. To make an em dash in Windows, use the “Symbols” menu or you can use the shortcut alt + 0151.

Exclamation points

Generally, do not use exclamation points in DocuSign copy. Exceptions can be made for social media posts or informal ad copy.


Generally, hyphens are used to unite multiple words to form a single adjective that precedes a noun. Do not hyphenate these adjectives if they come after the noun. Use hyphens to remove ambiguity or confusion about multiple modifiers. With few exceptions, hyphens are not used to create noun or verb phrases.

DocuSign is hosting an event for small-business owners.
DocuSign is hosting an event for small business owners.
Do not use hyphens after the adverb very or with words that end in –ly.

Do not use hyphens to join words to prefixes or suffixes. Instead, write a single word.

Exceptions to this rule: proper nouns, numbers, words that would create confusion with another word (re-create, re-sign, re-cover) and words formed with anti-or self-.

Use hyphens without spaces to indicate numerical ranges (children ages 4-7).


Do not use periods after phrases, only after complete sentences.

Do not use periods after individual letters in an acronym (CEO, API, HR).

Do not use a period at the end of a title, headline, subhead or section header that is only one sentence.

Quotation marks

Double quotation marks (“,”) are used in body copy around a sentence or phrase that is a direct quotation. Use single quotation marks (‘,’) for direct quotes that are embedded inside other quotations.

Do not use quotation marks to add emphasis to a word or phrase.

Do not use quotation marks or suggest an ironic/sarcastic tone.

Do not use quotation marks to suggest that a word or phrase is euphemistic or colloquial..

Periods and commas always go inside quotation marks. Em dashes, colons, semicolons, question marks and exclamation points go inside the quotation marks only when that punctuation is appropriate for the words inside the quotation marks.

When a single quote runs longer than one paragraph, use a quotation mark at the beginning of each new paragraph, but only use one closing quotation mark at the very end of the quote.

No quotation marks are needed in a Q-and-A format or other structure that makes it clear the copy is a quotation.


Semicolons can be used to link two related independent clauses (complete sentences). They can also be used to separate items in a list when the items contain commas.

Steve went to many awesome cities on his trip: London, England; Madrid, Spain; Berlin, Germany and Miami, Florida.


Use slashes (/) to indicate and/or or either/or relationships. Do not include a space before or after the slash.


Do not use more than one space between any two words or between sentences.