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Filed under: Extra — anlactunay @ 7:13 AM

   1. Punctuation is used in writing to indicate the natural pauses, stress, and intonation of the spoken word. It is also used to clarify the meaning of a sentence.

   2. The most common marks of punctuation are the comma, the semicolon, the colon, and the full stop. These represent pauses of increasing length.
   ? commas       ? colons
   ? semicolons    ? full stop

   3. If you are in any doubt about punctuation, then use as little of it as possible. Write in short, direct sentences. It is perfectly possible to write clearly and efficiently using only the comma and the full stop.

   4. Avoid using abbreviations (i.e., etc., &, e.g.) as well as too frequent use of the dash (-) and the exclamation mark(!). These all create the impression of a style which is too casual and chatty.

   5. Abbreviations such as E.G. and I.E. are useful when taking notes. However, if you wish to use any of these expressions in the body of any formal writing, they should be written out fully in words – as ‘FOR EXAMPLE’ and ‘THAT IS’.

   6. Brackets (technical name ‘parentheses’) are used to indicate a supplementary remark, an authorial aside, or a qualification of some sort. However, if they are used too frequently they interrupt the flow of your work and create a choppy, unsettling effect.

   7. Square brackets [like these] are used to indicate an author’s additions. They indicate YOUR changes to somebody else’s writing, or your comments on it. For instance, if you are quoting something which requires brief explanation, you would insert your own remarks between square brackets.
   // Thompson’s article then goes on to claim that ‘these dramatic upheavals [in government policy] were heralded by cabinet reshuffles earlier in the year’ and it ends with an analysis of the election results.

   8. If a quotation contains a mistake in the original you might wish to indicate that the error is not your own. This too is indicated by the use of square brackets.
   // The senior government minister who was recently acquitted of kerb-crawling claimed that at long last his ‘trails [sic] and tribulations’ were at an end.

   9. Exclamation marks (!) should be used with restraint. They tend to create a slightly juvenile, over-excited tone. In any form of writing, the more frequently they are used the weaker their effect becomes.

   10. Question marks (?) too should be used to indicate that a question is being raised.

   11. The dash ( – ) may be used singly to indicate an afterthought, or in pairs to insert an explanatory comment or a short list:
   // Everything – furniture, paintings, and books – survived the fire.

   They should not be used as a substitute for parentheses, or mixed with them.

   12. The hyphen (-) is a short dash used to connect prefixes to words (multi-storey car park) or when forming compounds such as ‘son-in-law’ or a ‘couldn’t-care-less’ attitude.

   13. The oblique stroke (/) should not be used as a substitute for words such as ‘and’, ‘plus’, and ‘or’. Try to avoid the either/or construction and such lazy (and ugly) compounds as ‘an entire social/sexual/ideological system’.

   14. Note that the combination of colon-plus-dash [: – ] (which is called ‘the pointer’) is NEVER necessary. Some people use this to indicate that a list will follow, but the colon alone should be sufficient.

   15. Too frequent or uncontrolled use of these marks of punctuation tends to create a loose, sloppy style. You should normally keep them strongly in check, otherwise you might produce writing as bad as this:
   // What then went wrong? – how was the political impetus of the late 60’s/70’s lost that manifested itself so strikingly in the field of film study?

   19. Quotations are normally shown in single quote marks – ‘like this’. When quoting speech use double quote marks:
   // “These conventions are designed to give your essays a pleasing and well-designed appearance”, the tutor said to the students.

   20. You do NOT need to put full stops after titles such as Mr, Dr, and Co (unless they occur at the end of a sentence). They are also NOT required in well-known business and company titles such as BBC and IBM. This is a practice which has now gone out of fashion.

   21. Make a clear distinction between marks of punctuation such as the comma and the full stop, otherwise this may appear to produce weak grammar.

   22. Many aspects of punctuation are ultimately a matter of personal preference, current fashion, and (in the case of newspapers and commercial publishers) what is known as ‘house style’. There are also minor differences in practice between the UK and the USA. The suggestions made above are based generally on common conventions in the UK.

   23. The importance of punctuation can be illustrated by comparing the two following letters. In both cases, the text is the same. It’s the punctuation which makes all the difference!

   Dear John:
     // I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful. People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever when we’re apart. I can be forever happy — will you let me be yours?

     // Dear John:
     I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful people, who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me. For other men, I yearn. For you, I have no feelings whatsoever. When we’re apart, I can be forever happy. Will you let me be?
     Yours, Gloria


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