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Punctuate with care

Today is set aside as National Punctuation Day (though, like National Grammar Day [March 4, isn’t it?], an occasion I’m inclined to approach with some misgivings); it has been commemorated since 2004 by Jeff Rubin, the self-described Punctuation Man (!) and his wife, who, since “premiering Punctuation Playtime in September 2006 … have been as busy as commas in a Sears catalog,” and who carry the message that “careless punctuation mistakes cost time, money, and productivity”: a proposition that merits examination — and illustrated here by a sentence that will have included all 13 standard punctuation marks when it arrives at a full stop.
Posted by John McIntyre at 4:00 PM | | Comments (5)



I'm going to copy and print that sentence and hang it on my wall, because it answers three of the punctuation predicaments in which I most often find myself.

Thank you.

(Yes, I'm distressed because you omitted the virgule and single quotation marks, but included the brackets. At least we agree on the interrobang.)

A great way to use single quotes is in flower varietal names.

And I also do not regard the interrobang as standard punctuation--it's "slang punctuation."

(and the smilie is compound punctuation)

I took the occasion of National Punctuation Day (once I found out about it) to publicly register my support for the serial comma:


Jmac - seein' as how you have become my punctuation guru, could you please answer the following question.

Periods and commas used in tandem with quotation marks: do you place them logically or...uh...prescriptivistly?

(You could climb on the "use Sarah to increase your hits" bandwagon with a post about the rules governing dropping the "g" in textual representation of folksy conversation, by the way.)

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About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
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