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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Following up: Writing advice in honor of National Punctuation Day, Sept. 24

I just realized that Monday, Sept. 24, was National Punctuation Day. So I'm highlighting here the punctuation entry in my online writing resource, Garbl's Editorial Style Manual:

punctuation Use common sense. Punctuation should help reading--to make clear the thought being expressed. If punctuation does not help clarify the message, it should not be there.
When more than one punctuation mark (not including quotation marks, parentheses or brackets) could be used at the same place in a sentence, use only the "stronger"--or more necessary--of the two. Question marks and exclamation points, for example, are stronger than commas and periods: "Have all the ballots finally been counted?" asked the reporter. (The question mark fills the role of the comma.)The topic of his speech is "We demand justice now!" (No period following the exclamation point.)
See entries for specific punctuation marks:
Also see asterisk (*)headlinespound sign (#)sentence length.

In addition, you can find advice on using punctuation consistently in the Writing clear, simple sentences section of Garbl's Plain English Writing Guide. It begins: 
Punctuation shows how words and strings of words are related, separated and emphasized. Its main purpose is to help the reader understand the structure of the sentences you write. Punctuation also replaces the voice inflection, pauses and hand gestures we use when we talk.
Consistent, accurate use of punctuation marks is important. But excessive use of commas, parentheses, semicolons and dashes may signal long or complicated sentences.
You can find still more advice on punctuation at websites listed in the Punctuation section of Garbl's Online Grammar Guides, part of Garbl's Writing Resources OnlineMy Grammar Guides resource is an annotated directory of websites where you can find answers to your questions about sentence structure and using the parts of speech correctly.

Finally, the Sept. 25 edition of Garbl's Style: Write Choices features articles on the subject of punctuation. My daily online "paper" is also available and the Editorial Style tab above and by free email subscription.

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