Category «Punctuation»

Twin brackets, commas and dashes (Mistake #66)

Good day. Here’s a little lesson which I hope you’ll find useful. Consider three sentences: The poet Angela Smith (who had travelled from the Shetlands) said the book festival was a huge success. The poet Angela Smith, who had travelled from the Shetlands, said the book festival was a huge success. The poet Angela Smith …

Do you want hyphens with that, sir? (Mistake #44)

Meet Rustic farmer Ben, presently ubiquitous on London’s transport system, and probably far beyond. He’s not rustic farmer Ben, which would be fine, or Rustic Farmer Ben, which would also be fine, if a little self-aggrandising, but Rustic farmer Ben, which is plain wrong and already predisposes me to want to slap him across the …

The Apostrophe (Mistake #26)

Few will think badly of you if you don’t know, say, whether it’s St James’s Park or St James’ Park, but if you write something like “its important to get word’s right” you’re inviting derision. Apostrophe howlers like this will make any decent editor wince. Granted, perhaps she’ll think “Oh, it’s all right – we’ve …

Loose brackets (Mistake #13)

So: round brackets, properly known as parentheses. What are they used for? * to offer the reader an aside (which is a thoughtful thing to do); * to give an unimportant piece of information (in which only a few readers may be interested); * to offer extra information (such as a fuller explanation of a …

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