As a writer, I take advantage of opportunities to refresh my knowledge of the basic rules of writing. Even though I’m an English major, I’m occasionally unsure of whether to use a comma or a semi-colon, etc., so I was grateful for the opportunity to read Punctuation by G. Miki Hayden. Btw, look carefully at the punctuation mark on the cover. It is not what you think. At least, it wasn’t what I thought. I confess I just glanced at it and thought I knew what it was. I was surprised to learn that I was wrong–and what it means.
The rules of punctuation are to make it easy for the reader. You don’t want to trip him up and stop his enjoyment of your story, because writing isn’t just words; it’s about how to emphasize them. I appreciated not only the easy-to-understand rules, but also the examples, which help you to understand them. I’m less fuzzy now about which punctuation marks go inside the double quotes and which don’t, among other things. And I won’t be puzzled when reading a book published in England.
Learning that you don’t need to use italics when writing thoughts was a relief. And I learned only recently that we probably don’t need to underline words to be printed in italics, and we now only put one space at the end of a sentence. That is a hard habit to break! (And you’ll notice that I’ve only used one exclamation mark so far. I tend to overuse them, along with parentheses.) Be sure to study the section on apostrophes, please.
The elipsis explanation really helped me, and the serial comma explanation made me feel better. (I had never given up the last serial comma, btw.) A number of things were clarified for me, including what to use inside a parenthesis (brackets); I’ve been using more parentheses. And there are quizzes at the end, if you want to test yourself. This was an easy and enjoyable read, and the author was firm, but not dogmatic. Highly recommended for those who write, whether it’s fiction or reports or a blog. And it was a fun read.