Book Reviews

Your Biggest, Most Annoying Punctuation Questions: Solved

Although seemingly banal, punctuation can be a contentious subject.

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Writing is something that comes easily to many of us here in the digital age. In fact, sometimes it feels like you know everything you need to know about it. I mean, you do it every day, right? A tweet here, a text there. We create a flood of text every day. And everyone knows that lists should be written like this, this, and this.

Or should lists be written like this, this and this?

Did you notice the difference? The first example has two commas in the list; the second one is called the Oxford comma. And some people have very strong opinions on whether or not the Oxford comma is “correct.”

Or should I have said ‘correct’?

Both versions are right in separate contexts. And this is part of what makes grammar so enticing— and frustrating. In the writing world, there is no single standard that applies to all situations. Some factors that can influence your punctuation include: which continent you’re writing for, which type of content you’re producing (news, academic, or fiction), and whichever style preferences you may have. For example, I love the Oxford comma.

In a world where rules are so fluid, it can be difficult to make sense of it all. But today’s book does a beautiful job of answering some of the most difficult punctuation questions. Where do commas go? Where do quotation marks go? And what does a semicolon do?

Punctuation Book to the Rescue!

This brings me to The Best Punctuation Book, Period. Written by editor and grammar columnist, June Casagrande, this book delves into complex punctuation issues in a clear, and easy to understand manner. Each chapter focuses on a different type of punctuation with sections devoted to common questions. Each section has an example of what to expect in each of the three styles (news, book, and academic). And she also put together a panel of grammar experts who answer tricky punctuation questions that aren’t addressed in grammar stylebooks like CMOS and AP. There’s also a thorough index in the back so you can jump to exactly what you’re looking for.

I can’t recommend this book enough. As someone who was never fond of grammar in school, this book lays everything out in clean, simple language. If you want to improve your writing or editing skills, this punctuation book is a must-have.

PS: Do you have a tough time writing business letters or cover letters? Read this post for a breakdown of formal letter-writing format as well as links to additional resources.

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