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4
votes
3answers
95 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
30 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
524 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 ...
7
votes
4answers
10k 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
312 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
493 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. ...
16
votes
4answers
2k 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
52 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
125 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
173 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
369 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
129 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
193 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
75 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
508 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
107 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
222 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
215 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
488 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
504 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
796 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
1k 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
144 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
186 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
503 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
416 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
328 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
578 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
496 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 ...