Wednesday 20 October 2010

Punctuation (The Best of the Rest)

We’ve reached the end of the road of my writing series on punctuation. We’ve looked at:

The Full Stop
The Comma
The Semi-Colon
The Colon
The Dash
The Quotation, Exclamation and Question Marks

With those dramatic and useful punctuation marks behind us, it’s easy to forget that there are other punctuation marks that can be useful. Before this series hurries off into the sunset, let’s have a quick summary of the best of the rest:

The Ellipses: used to indicate a trailing off or the passage of time...overuse...of these three little dots...can leave your page if it’s outbreak of measles…

The Hyphen: a connecting symbol for a double-barrelled word, the hyphen is not to be confused with the more vigorous dash.

The Brackets(Parentheses): like the double dash, brackets are used to provide the reader with extraneous information. Unlike the double dash, the effect of the brackets (as you’ll see) presents the information in a less formal manner, as if your reader is also your chum that you’re whispering a secret to.

Italics: an attractive way of emphasising a word or phrase for a particular reason, for example, to highlight a book title or to reflect inner monologue. Overuse can annoy the reader as their striking visual impact can dominate the text.

Section Breaks: On the one hand, a section break (usually shown as ### centred) is a useful transition indicator between points of view, time periods or change of settings and, in longer chapters, gives the reader a chance to rest. On the other hand, a section break gives the reader a convenient chance to put your book down. If a section break is necessary at the point, make sure you end it with a hook good enough to bring your reader eagerly back into the fold.

Recommended Reading: A plethora of books on grammar and punctuation rests on my bookshelves. Without their guidance, this series of writing tips on punctuation would not exist. The three books listed below were of particular use. From Lukeman’s New York pizzazz to Davidson’s restrained English phlegm, I found these the most useful in providing clarity and understanding of complex points of punctuation. I’d highly recommend you add them to your library.

Art of Punctuation by Noah Lukeman Click here to buy
Punctuation by Graham King Click here to buy
How to Punctuate by George Davidson Click here to buy

And so we are at the end of our series on punctuation. I hope you learnt as much as I did! In the upcoming months I’ll be attending a few writing courses, which I’ll share with you on the blog. I have other ideas for writing tips and, as usual there will be a few South African Snippets, Book Reviews and other tasty morsels to keep you occupied. 

If you have any special requests that you’d like to see appear on the blog drop me an email at and I’ll see if I can accommodate you.


Anonymous said...

Thanks, Judy!! That section break debate goes on in my mind all the time when I'm writing!

CA Heaven said...

Great series, Judy. Thanks for summing up all the links to your previous posts on punctuation; then we got everything linked up at the same place.

The semi-colon is still my favorite ... and now I've leaned about ellipses too >;)

Cold As Heaven

Cold As Heaven

Anita said...

This series was fabulous! YOU could write a book on the subject. Thank you so much for taking the time for those of us who struggle with punctuation. You rock!

Damaria Senne said...

The series is classic. I'm certainly going to bookmark it, for when in doubt.

Robyn Campbell said...

Super excellent posts that have been bookmarked and copied and pasted. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. And Christopher and I both send love and hugs and kisses. :)

PS: ellipses are so hard for me to get. Now? No problem.

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

PAUL: Sometimes a break just can’t be avoided. The best is to work on that hook and hope it reels the reader back in!

COLD: So glad you enjoyed the series! And that semi-colon really has you hooked…

ANITA: Nah! I found the books I read surprisingly interesting (when I remembered my childhood grammar classes I expected to be bored) but there’s no urge to write one myself! :)

DAMARIA: Good to know you’ll use the series for future reference!

ROBYN: Only a pleasure! Hope you and Christopher are both well again! ((HUGS))