Eats, shoots and leaves

Do you know when to use ellipses or parentheses? Or the difference between an en-dash and an em-dash? Or the lurking dangers of the ever-common comma splice? Well, I have recently learned (or rather re-learned) a skill which I never thought could be so useful or powerful: the correct use of punctuation! I am in the midst of copy-editing two manuscripts as part of my freelance editing job, and after pulling my hair out over where to put the period (before or after quotation marks?), whether to use the Oxford comma (need or no need?), I decided that it was time to sit down and devote an afternoon to learning about this deep and ancient mystery — punctuation. And lo, I discovered that there are at least 23 points to take note of when using the comma, and plenty other pointers when using the other 13 punctuation marks! After the fascination of discovering the proper usage of different punctuation marks,  I now have my own self-compiled “Guide to Using Punctuation”, and might I add, an incredibly powerful instrument to tell if it should be “it” or “it’s”. And after reading Lynn Truss’ funny book called Eats, Shoots and Leaves, I believe I can now safely navigate the murky corridors of the punctuation labyrinth. Semi-colons: I fear thee no longer!

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~ by irwin on April 18, 2009.

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