Monday, April 13, 2015

Monday Forum - punctuation

Browsing, I came across The Punctuation Guide. Hat tip to Australian eBook Publisher for the link. The Guide is American, but includes a page explaining the differences from British English. 

I discovered punctuation quite late. Of course I punctuated, but I wasn't really aware of the way that punctuation could be used to enhance effect. This brings me to today's Forum topic: what is your favourite, least favourite, punctuation mark?

As always, feel free to go in whatever direction you want. I'm sure that you must have things that you hate.    


My Observations said...

Thank you for the link. This is going to be my reading subject of the week. Only 10 tips, so why I find punctuation so puzzling?

Evan said...

Most frustrating for me is figuring out the single and double quote marks.

Evan said...

Also footnotes are better than in text references which break up the text and make it hard to read.

2 tanners said...

I hate colons, in a limited sense. It's when they are used in titles, especially of scientific or technical papers, to turn a punchy title into a verbose fat one, e.g.

"Belshaw's Blog: The economically educated but dialectically abstruse postmodernist preachings of a New England National."

Footnote: 'Postmodern' is obligatory but may be safely ignored as meaningless.

Footnote: If you're going to read the article, you'd hope that you were able to get the sense of the title in the opening paragraph.

Footnote: Colons in footnotes aren't objectionable.

Jim Belshaw said...

Hi AC. Perhaps because punctuation is so often explained in a formal sense, not in helping the flow of the language.

Evan, this site can help with quotes, but look at the comparison with British English. That will help.

Post modernist, indeed 2T. And dialectic ally abstruse! But agree with your comment on that particular use of the colon.

Jim Belshaw said...

Just a further comment. I like colons: you can follow them up with a semicolon; that allows longer sentences with short components; but then, and always, it depends on how it all reads.

2 tanners said...

Short sentences are nearly always better. They have impact. They speak to the reader.

Longer sentences drag: they often have more content; however, even when broken up they are harder to follow.


Jim Belshaw said...

Nice one, 2T! I learned to write in short sentences, short paragraphs In Treasury because that was the best way of getting content across with busy readers. Mind you, I was never guilty of Mr Abbott's obsession with one sentence paras.

Later looking back over my reading, the books I really enjoyed, I found that they often used more complex sentence structures that drew the reader along. So when I was writing my PhD, a biography, I started experimenting.

I guess it depends upon purpose and fit.