Punctuation – Punctuation is the orthographic representation of any number of meaningful pauses in prose. It is not only meant to duplicate the naturally meaningful, unconscious pauses we make in when we speak; rather, punctuation also represents those mental pauses that both precede spoken words and dictate the rhythm of written ones. Each mark has evolved [...]

Quotation Marks

Quotation Marks – You must punctuate dialogue in fiction and nonfiction (unless you are Cormac McCarthy). In American English, quotation marks fall outside of other punctuation marks. In British English, the reverse is true. If you are taking a college class in America, place closing quotation marks on the outside. Learn the rule: “Write like this.” [...]


Semicolons – Semicolons are unexpected. They force us to do more work. I personally like them and use them. But there’s a lot to be said for the tighter control offered by periods and comma-and/comma-but conjunctions. These tend to disappear, foregrounding your story. Semicolons and other rare beasts tend to highlight themselves—or, more accurately, to [...]