Punctuated equilibrium

With National Punctuation Day creeping up on us, I wanted you to be prepared. So I am supplying you with a set of resolutions to have ready by September 24.


Resolved: That I will use a comma to separate independent clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction.

I know what is the right thing to do // , // and I will do it gladly.

Resolved: That I will use a semicolon* to join two independent clauses without a coordinating conjunction.

I saw what you did // ; // I know who you are.

Resolved: That I will refrain from inserting a superfluous comma between compound verbs.

The careful writer understands what the rules are // and // knows when to safely veer from them.

Resolved: That I will refrain from inserting a superfluous comma between two relative clauses.

The careful editor understands that many writers punctuate from intuition rather than training // and // that correction is often required.

Resolved: That I will always use a period with an ellipsis at the end of a sentence.

“But Aldus gets the credit generally //. … //

Resolved: That I will not use the apostrophe to make anything other than a number or a letter a plural.

The // Smiths // learned their // p’s and q’s // in elementary school.

Resolved: That I will refrain from using dashes for merely parenthetical material, using parentheses or commas instead, reserving the dash to indicate a break in continuity.

Journalists // , // who have often been recipients of bad advice on language // , // can receive assistance from an unlikely source // — // the copy desk.

Resolved: That I will learn the difference between a dash and a hyphen and punctuate accordingly.

This, dear ones, is a hyphen: // - //. This is a dash: // — //.

Resolved: That I will use square brackets, not parentheses, to set off interpolated matter, no matter what the Associated Press does.

“But Aldus // [Manutius] // gets the credit generally. …”

Resolved: That I will use no more than one dozen exclamation points in the course of my professional career, and never to use more than one at a time.


* Thank you, Aldus Manutius.



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