Thought about your punctuation lately?

Have you given much thought to punctuation lately?

 I thought not. Novel Journey scored an interview with Noah Lukeman, author of  A Dash of Style: The Art and Mastery of Punctuation, who had this to say:

For most writers, punctuation is something they learned when young and which they now do mostly by instinct. Most writers have not actively studied or paid close attention to the marks on an ongoing basis, or in recent years. Since they do so much instinctually, they prefer not to dwell too deeply. It is like holding up a magnifying glass to the part they prefer to keep in the dark, or at the very least, not to be highlighted.

 So, what’s your approach to punctuation? Do you just stick things in where they seem to fit, or do you follow a set of rules learned in grammar school?

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5 Responses to Thought about your punctuation lately?

  1. Phil says:

    I think about it often, but I also edit emails and document for the leaders in my organization. I’m not good at it, but they appreciate my efforts I suppose. Part of my struggle with it has been from years of facing bad punctuation which was defended by the writers. Why do people italicize whole sentences?

  2. Roy Jacobsen says:

    Might it help to have an authority to fall back on when your corrections are questioned (such as Mr. Lukeman’s book, or "Eats, Shoots, and Leaves")? Or have you tried that already? I once had to duke it out — not literally — with someone over the use of commas with restrictive and non-restrictive clauses. Fortunately, I was able to cite both "The Little Brown Handbook" and "The Elements of Style" in my defense, which swept away the opposition.

  3. Roy Jacobsen says:

    Italicizing an entire sentence does seem a bit much. Might as well put in all in bold face while you’re at it.

  4. Phil W says:

    I don’t know that I’ve cited chapter and verse on anything yet. I have dug up rules and offered a paraphrase, such as "I looked it up and I was right about that." Actually, I don’t argue over grammar much at all, and often let incorrect things go.Does that make me a bad person?

  5. Roy Jacobsen says:

    Sounds to me like a case of choosing one’s battles.

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