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National Punctuation Day! | Kestrel's Aerie

National Punctuation Day! | Kestrel's Aerie

National Punctuation Day!

Today is National Punctuation Day. In honor of the first holiday of the season (you know…NPD, Halloween, Thanksgiving (or Thanksgiving, Halloween if you’re Canadian, eh), Christmas, New Year’s Day), here are a few things to keep in mind regarding punctuation:

  • The interrobang is not a recognized punctuation mark, okay‽ Don’t try to fake it by using exclamation marks and question marks together, okay!? (But if you must, put the ? last, since you are asking a question.)
  • Sentence terminators (period, question mark, exclamation mark (or point)) go inside quotation marks.
  • Except when they don’t.
  • Speaking of “quotation marks,” (btw, see where the comma is?), they are so-named for a reason. If you want to give emphasis or oomph, there are better ways. Gratuitous quote marks hint of cynicism or an attempt to cast doubt. And they’re just “dumb.”
  • There is nothing wrong with using the series, serial, or Oxford comma. (If you don’t know what a serial or Oxford comma is, reread the preceding sentence.)
  • If you think commas (and capitalization) are overused, examine the following: Mother helped my father, Jack, off the horse.
  • Feel free “to boldy go where no one has gone before.” Just don’t expect me to follow you into a dark alley. However, if you want to merrily split infinitives, you have my blessing. And the approval of the University of Chicago Press.1
  • Unless you’re writing in Latin.
  • Its important to know when to use an apostrophe, and when it’s use is wrong.
  • If your sentence reads the same whether you use a comma or a period then use the period, avoid the comma splice.
  • No one will cut your hands off (nor will they cut off your hands) if you insert two spaces after a period or colon. Instead, your editor will search/replace all such occurrences with a single space, and “Track Changes” will be turned off. Don’t ask me how I know this.2
  • If you are unsure of the difference in usage for a colon and a semicolon, I have a simple piece of advice for you; avoid both.
  • Finally, although a preposition is a part of speech and not a punctuation mark, it’s a perfectly fine thing to end a sentence with.

Interrobang graphic credit:

  1. Do I have to explain everything? Publishers of the Chicago Manual of Style.
  2. Feel free to draw your own conclusions, however, knowing I’m an editor.


3 Responses to National Punctuation Day!
  1. Grimmtooth
    September 24, 2010 | 11:29

    “… if you insert two spaces after a period …”

    Oh dear, batten down the hatches and prepare for an assault from the BRKWWA Hit Squad and Traveling Disco.
    Grimmtooth recently posted…Well Fed Buff- Taters- Precious!My Profile

    • Kestrel
      September 24, 2010 | 11:57

      BRK has it right. And I get sooooo tired of the excuse, “That’s how I was taught [on a typewriter]!”

      Protip: If you were taught that way on a computer after 1990, your instructor was wrong.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Brigwyn and Renee , Steve Hall (Kestrel). Steve Hall (Kestrel) said: New at Kestrel's Aerie: It's National Punctuation Day, and I'm celebrating! Interrobang THIS: […]

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