Punctuation marks – how confident are you that you’re using the right one?

No time for a proper blog post this week (paid work has to take over, I’m afraid), so instead I hope you’ll enjoy this blog post from Oxford Dictionaries’, 6 punctuation marks you might be using incorrectly. I’ve talked about some of these tricksy characters in past posts (see for example February’s post Colons in the red corner, semicolons in the blue…which one will win?), but the OED’s guide goes a step further.

If you’ve ever found yourself unsure about using any of the following: possessive apostrophes, semicolons, colons, ellipses, hyphens or dashes, then it’s well worth a read.

‘Til next time…

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2 thoughts on “Punctuation marks – how confident are you that you’re using the right one?

  1. I wonder why you used a semicolon at the end of each list item. Isn’t it preferred to use no punctuation at the end of each item — or maybe just a comma. The semicolon makes no sense to me in this context.

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    • Hi Laura, I’ve looked at various style guides and you’re right. Thank you for pointing it out! I think I was misapplying advice I was given in Plain English training on writing for websites, where it suggested using a semicolon after each item in a list and having ‘; or/and’ following the penultimate one in the list, with the final one ending in a full stop (rather than ending the sentence with a line below the bulleted list). What various experts seem to recommend is actually to use semicolons at the end of each part following a bullet point if there are commas within the sentence/part of sentence that’s bulleted (for example, somebody quotes CMoS: In a numbered vertical list that completes a sentence begun in an introductory element and that consist of phrases or sentences with internal punctuation, semicolon may be used between the items, and a period should follow the final item. […] If bullets were used instead of numbers … the punctuation remain the same. — Chicago Manual of Style, Section 6.125). I’ll edit the entry now…

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