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8
votes
6answers
13k views

How many commas is too many?

I find myself often in writing using too many commas, but then going through and editing many of them back out again or restructuring to use full-stops. Is there a rule of thumb I've forgotten from ...
4
votes
1answer
38 views

Multiple sentences in a parenthetical phrase - How do I punctuate properly?

I keep on running into this problem. I will have a parenthetical phrase (which is something set off by parentheses, rather like this, for those of you that do not know), but I need to include multiple ...
0
votes
2answers
28 views

How to correctly punctuate this dialogue?

I have some dialogue between two people (a clerk and a person called John Doe). I want the clerk to say to John: "You're John Doe. Still." So I've punctuated it like this: "You're John Doe. ...
2
votes
2answers
49 views

Which one is the correct dialogue punctuation format?

I am writing my first novel and this the very first confusion I would like to clarify. As I am not a native English speaker, I find it very hard to understand the punctuation scheme in direct ...
1
vote
1answer
76 views

Overabundance of punctuation, too many pauses, like this title

I have a writing style which relies heavily on pauses, specifically commas and periods. I like to put them everywhere but I am quit sure I overdo it significantly. I was wondering if there are known ...
2
votes
1answer
349 views

Am I correctly punctuating this pause?

I want to convey the pause between the "then" and the rest of the sentence. But I'm not sure a comma is the correct punctuation to use. Then, when the smoke had cleared Jane Or is an ellipsis ...
2
votes
4answers
261 views

Software to change American punctuation to British

My apologies if this is off topic. American and British writing have different punctuation styles. Is there any software that can change American style punctuation to British? I am referring to ...
2
votes
2answers
49 views

Punctuation in a list

Let's say I have a document with a list like this: aaaa bbbb cccc dddd Should I put nothing, a semicolon, a full stop or what at the end of each line? This is for an academic paper. We don't ...
4
votes
3answers
117 views

Commas at the beginning of a sentence: should I follow convention or intuition?

An example from my own writing (Mother and daughter are burying their deceased dog): As planned that Friday, Mom and I underwent Choco’s burial at my home in __ (yes, she kept him in a garbage ...
1
vote
1answer
35 views

Spaces within abbreviations, acronyms, and initials

I have come across examples supporting both spaced as well as non-spaced examples and that's what confuses me. I want to understand what the standard practice is as endorsed by any of the major style ...
6
votes
2answers
597 views

Should I be using commas to suggest/enforce cadence?

I always think of commas as indicating pauses in speech, and vice versa. So I was surprised the other day when I saw somebody's typed-out Pledge of Allegiance, which looked like this: "I pledge ...
3
votes
2answers
320 views

How to handle speech within speech?

If I'm writing a sentence such as: "I was talking to Alison the other day she said 'I like your shirt!'" Lisa commented. Here Lisa is quoting Alison, how should Alison's speech be punctuated? ...
5
votes
3answers
572 views

How to use parentheses

Parentheses have many uses; I find myself reaching for them often. Increasingly though, I realise I can convey the same meaning without parentheses with little or only minor loss in succinctness. ...
17
votes
4answers
3k views

Dashes vs. Commas vs. parentheses?

Occasionally I write sentences containing subparts with extra information. I never know how to block off this information from the rest of the sentence. Three ways I have seen are dashes, commas, and ...
0
votes
2answers
53 views

Is it acceptable to place a dash after a question mark?

Is it professionally acceptable to place a dash after a question mark in the following example? Bob: 'I don't like asking Matt but I need some help.' Peter: 'Why don't you go and ask him to help ...
2
votes
3answers
152 views

How do I search for tick marks not smart quotes in Word?

I'm doing a proofing check of a book prior to submitting to publication and want to make sure it's as neat as possible before doing so. Recently, I've had to merge two versions of the document - from ...
5
votes
2answers
243 views

Shouting in a question

How do I express shouting in a question? In a non-question sentence, I just put an exclamation mark at the end and/or use words like "shouted"/"yelled"/etc in the "said" tag and it feels fine. But ...
3
votes
2answers
489 views

Em dash: space or no space between words

On the use of em dashes. Is it better to omit the spaces between the words and the dash, or is it preferable to separate them with spaces instead? For example: No spaces: It's time to take a nap—a ...
2
votes
1answer
49 views

Listing names with titles

Normally when listing a group of people you would simply separate each with a comma. Please send the memo to Jason, Sarah, and Courtney. However if you want to include the title of each person ...
1
vote
1answer
167 views

Proper way to punctuate “oh so slow”

What is the proper way to punctuate a phrase such as "oh so slow" or "oh so pretty"? I can't find anything in Chicago about it. I think it would be something like this: Blah blah blah happened, oh ...
0
votes
1answer
219 views

Comma between the following clauses in AP Style?

The AP style says that a comma is not needed between two clauses that have the same subject. However, it would become ambiguous if I removed the comma fromt the following: When you walk straight ...
2
votes
1answer
81 views

Trouble with punctuation and style of a sentence [closed]

I'm having so much trouble figuring this out for some reason: He raised his hands in mock surrender, warranting a raised eyebrow from Simon who proceeded to bid again anyway, setting off another ...
0
votes
5answers
600 views

Usage of commas in poetry

I wrote a piece of poetry for one of my short stories (the main character, Eri, writes poems). It's the following: Eri, did you feel the earthquake last night? Are you really sure your ...
1
vote
2answers
116 views

Using hyphen points

I read that bullet points have to be consistent when it comes to content and punctuation. For example, you can't mix full sentence bullet points with fragments. Is this true for hyphen points (if ...
4
votes
3answers
281 views

How do I organize a paragraph that lists several steps after an introduction?

I have a paragraph like below: A hypothetical solution is like this: first, we can use a table to record entries. These entries are imported from a library. . ..... Basically, this paragraph is ...
8
votes
2answers
561 views

Overuse of bullet points

I collaborate with someone who insists on making every sentence (or two) in a business document into a bullet point, by prefacing it with a bullet. This is typically done across a multi-page ...
1
vote
1answer
577 views

How to elegantly convey the finer nuances of language in written form

I am fascinated by the idea of how to convey, in the written form, as much detail of expressive nuance as you originally intended in your head (i.e. what you hear when first coming up with it). I ...
4
votes
5answers
2k views

Using dashes in writing dialogue

Does anyone use em dashes (or two hyphens) to denote speakers in dialogue passages? Joyce does this as does William Gaddis. Many others. I practice it, but my only "conceptual understanding" is that ...
1
vote
3answers
1k views

Punctuation and capitalisation in poetry [duplicate]

I'm writing a poem entirely without commas, periods, colons, dashes, emdashes, etc. However, near the end of the poem I name a city and I want to capitalise it. On one hand, I think it would be ...
4
votes
1answer
2k views

When to use the em dash (—) in fiction writing?

I always see the em dash (—) in fiction writing. Here are some example from Haruki Murakami's After Dark: Komugi comes in and takes something from one of the cartons piled against the wall—a ...
4
votes
4answers
2k views

A tricky serial semi-colon

A serial comma is used to separate a list of items: For breakfast, we had ham, eggs, and toast. A serial semi-colon is used when items in the list have commas: For breakfast, we had ham, ...
1
vote
1answer
146 views

Please advise on this comma among semi-colons and provide a more concise sentence

I created this question for two reasons: I want to know if it is proper to place a comma after the word and (in bold) below. This sentence is kind of clunky, like many of my sentences, and it helps ...
1
vote
0answers
208 views

Parenthetical phrases within dialog [closed]

I'm curious about the history and use of parenthetical phrases within dialog. I offer two contrasting examples: An example of an "unvoiced" parenthetical phrase inside dialog from Pride and ...
1
vote
6answers
570 views

Do parentheses inhibit clarity?

I find it easier to write many things with parentheses, but I don't know if this is considered good practice. I would expect some might say that parentheses are indicative of excessive digression and ...
1
vote
2answers
483 views

Should I put colons with second-level titles?

I'm writing a documentation for an eGovernment project, so the document I'm writing is a scientific document. It contains some big ideas, each having some subideas, with each subidea having a number ...
2
votes
1answer
357 views

When to use single quotes in narrative writing?

I understand there's a certain element of stylistic freedom in using quotes, double quotes, or neither. But what are the specific cases when single quotes are generally recommended?
4
votes
6answers
591 views

Need help to rephrase this sentence to prevent a run-on

I'm writing a narrative and am having a problem structuring the order of events. Here is what I have: Jamie had an 8 am flight so she was out of the house just after 6. Leaving me to wake up, ...
3
votes
3answers
562 views

How would one use punctuation to indicate tone changes?

I'm imagining this sort of statement: He's a... different... sort of person, I suppose. Some people would pronounce 'different' in that sentence as though it was followed by a question mark, but ...