Question Mark - AMA Manual of Style

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Question Mark 


Cheryl Iverson

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PRINTED FROM AMA MANUAL OF STYLE ONLINE ( © American Medical Association, 2009. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the license agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in AMA Manual of Style Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy).  Subscriber: null; date: 25 November 2015

Question Mark

The primary use of the question mark is to end interrogative sentences.

When did he go into private practice?

If this article were a work of the 1930s, not the 1990s, would we view it differently? And should we?

In Dates.

Use the question mark to show doubt about specific data.

Hippocrates (460?-375 bce) is often referred to as the Father of Medicine.


Place the question mark inside the end quotation mark (see 8.6.5, Quotation Marks, Placement), the closing parenthesis, or the end bracket when the question mark is part of the quoted or parenthetical material.

The patient asked her physician of 25 years, “Why are you retiring, Doctor?”

The chapter on interpretation asks the question “Can I be wrong?”

The mandate for health reform (can we agree on this?) will change practice as we know it.

In declarative sentences that contain a question, place the question mark at the end of the interrogative statement.

Why did I bother to attend this conference? she wondered.

The first section of the book, “What Medical Advances Made Open Heart Surgery Possible?” is certain to interest medical historians.

The investigators asked the question “Have you ever injected drugs?” of every study participant.

(Note: The question mark, like the exclamation point [see 8.1.3, Exclamation Point, Placement], is never combined with another question mark, exclamation point, period, semicolon, or comma; thus, the need for a comma is obviated in the 3 examples above. This usage is sometimes referred to as “dueling punctuation marks,” and in this duel, the stronger mark wins.)

Rhetorical questions (those not requiring an answer) do not require a question mark. (See 8.1.1, Period.)

What is gained by recounting past losses when we have a chance to start afresh in our efforts to provide health care to the uninsured.

Indirect or reported speech also does not require a question mark.

She wondered why there were no illustrations in the article.

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