Rejoice, it’s National Punctuation Day! The brainchild of a former newspaperman turned newsletter writer, Jeff Rubin, the day is dedicated to the correct use of punctuation. Naturally, newspaper columnists and editors hungry for any idea they can turn around quickly have pounced on punctuation as a worthy cause. Here’s an amusing but pointed reaction from the Washington Post’s John Kelly, who characterized Rubin’s quest as “one man looking for comma ground in a world where most people don’t know their apostrophe from a hole in the ground.”
Punctuation can make a mighty difference in your writing. Here at The Write Stuff, we’ve long maintained that one of the strongest weapons in a writer’s arsenal is the period. Caught in a long, meandering sentence, long separated from its subject and verb, a writer always should ask whether it wouldn’t be better to end the sentence or break it in half. All that’s needed is a period. OK, sometimes a semicolon will work, too, although many people don’t how to use the semicolon (the most prominent use is to separate independent thoughts, both of which could stand alone as independent sentences, e.g. This is a sentence; this could be another.). A couple of Craft professors highlighted some other punctuation issues: The lack of punctuation in quotes (treat them the same as your writing and apply proper punctuation) and the overuse of punctuation, especially the comma, which allows too many writers to keep alive those meandering sentences. Which brings us back to the period.
Finally, to punctuate the day, here’s a quiz for your enjoyment.