Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Happy National Punctuation Day!

September 24 each year is National Punctuation Day, developed as "[a] celebration of the lowly comma, correctly used quotation marks, and the proper uses of periods, semicolons, and the ever-mysterious ellipsis."

The NPD website contains a list of online and other resources for people interested in learning more about proper punctuation, punctuation playtime activities for children, and products for those who just need a shirt that asks: "Is there a hyphen in anal-retentive?" (Oddly enough, the answer is "It depends.")*

One of my favorite quotes on punctuation comes from Poe:

"The writer who neglects punctuation, or mispunctuates, is liable to be misunderstood....For the want of merely a comma, it often occurs that an axiom appears a paradox, or that a sarcasm is converted into a sermonoid."

Another favorite is from F. Scott Fitzgerald, who advises writers to avoid exclamation points: "An exclamation point is like laughing at your own joke."

*This point is open for some debate, but in my opinion, when used as a noun, the term "anal retentive" does not have a hyphen.  When used as an adjective, it does.

She is anal retentive.

She's an anal-retentive proofreader.

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