Learning to Use Punctuation

In my composition classes, I often spend time going over punctuation concerns, since students often suffer from confusion, especially when it comes to commas.  I have used fun ideas from the Internet and from Lynne Truss’s book Eats, Shoots & Leaves (2003).  I’ve even toyed with the idea of having students buy Truss’s book, but it seems like too much (in terms of cost and length), especially since we try to focus on writing, not punctuation or grammar.

A solution to this has recently come to my attention.  A compact and delightful volume called Punctuation..? (2012) by User Design would address all necessary punctuation issues for my students without creating a lot of extra reading or taking away from the class’s focus on composition.

Punctuation..?  addresses each punctuation mark in one or two pages, accompanied by fun pictures that help to illustrate the point.  The examples are clear, easy to understand, and fun.  All punctuation marks are explained in 35 pages.

I could see myself having students buy this book and then going over one or two marks per class period.  I especially saw the section on semi-colons helpful, for I usually advise my students not to use them at all.  They have a hard time grasping when and how to employ them, and because beginning composition students don’t usually write with sentences that are complicated enough to demand a semi-colon, we avoid them.

I do find myself often explaining dashes, both em dashes and en dashes, and Punctuation..? explains the use of these as well.  Each part is short, sweet, and to the point.  The book includes a short explanation of each punctuation mark and some examples that demonstrate how to use it.  Each page also has accompanying pictures, which made me smile and added to the charm of this book.

I even learned some new punctuation marks!  As a former editor, I thought I had a pretty good handle on language, grammar, and punctuation.  However, from this book I learned about guillemets and an interpunct.  I have seen them before, but I have never had occasion to use them.  Admittedly, some of the uses in the book are different than American use, because it is published by a company in the United Kingdom.  However, I enjoyed it and I can see its usefulness in a classroom.

If you’d like to know more about this book, please visit http://www.userdesignillustrationandtypesetting.com/books.