National Literacy Learning Progression

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Punctuation description

This sub-element describes how a student becomes increasingly proficient using punctuation to ensure clarity and ease of reading in the texts they produce. As students write more complex and technical texts they will use increasingly complex punctuation to support meaning.

This sub-element should be used with the Creating texts sub-element.

Not all students will use handwriting to create texts; some will express themselves using augmentative and alternative communication strategies. This may include digital technologies, braille, real objects, photographs and pictographs.

Each sub-element level has been identified by upper-case initials and in some cases lower-case letters of the sub-element name followed by ascending numbers. The abbreviation for this sub-element is PuN. The listing of indicators within each level is non-hierarchical. Where appropriate, examples have been provided in brackets following an indicator.


  • identifies capital letters
  • identifies full stops


  • writes basic sentence boundary punctuation (capital letter at beginning, full stop at end)
  • writes capital letters for some proper nouns




  • uses sentence boundary punctuation including question marks or exclamation marks
  • consistently writes capitals appropriately for names of people


  • uses commas in lists of nouns (add the sugar, lemon, water and juice)
  • uses apostrophes for regular single possessives (girl’s)
  • capitalises key events, geographic names, titles (Easter, Sydney, Ms)


  • uses quotation marks for simple dialogue (‘I can’t see it,’ he said.)
  • uses apostrophes for plural possessives (planes' wings)
  • follows conventions of use of capitals in headings


  • writes commas to separate clauses where appropriate
  • punctuates more complex dialogue correctly (‘The team has made some interesting recommendations,’ she said, nodding. ‘But I do not want to act upon them before I have read the full report.’ )


  • uses complex punctuation conventions (colons, semicolons, brackets)
  • uses punctuation conventions for quotations and referencing


  • uses punctuation to clarify meaning in complex sentences, drawing on their knowledge of sentence structure (commas before introductory words, phrases or clauses; semicolons; colons; and dashes) (see Grammar)