Thursday, May 6, 2010

Don't use it if you don't know what it does

Much like people using big words that they don't know what they mean, I am weary of people who use punctuation without understand its function.  Long story short, individual at work called "editor" has very little editing skills.  I kind of lost count, but I think I counted nine punctuation errors in one article today?

Look, I'm a little biased.  I wanted that job.  I have the skills for it, it pays more, and I would have my own office.  An office with windows.  Office politics, etc., they give it to someone without even a "hey, this position is open" announcement.

Still.  Two "editors" read the article, and clearly not another soul but me knows how to use a semicolon.  Seriously kids, it's not hard.  Connecting independent clauses and separating units in a series when one or more unit has a comma.  For the general population, that's as much as you need to know.  It does get more detailed; some sites will tell you that it's acceptable to use a semicolon when introducing a list, but I strongly favor a colon.  (Am also an advocate for Oxford [or serial] comma in general. Ask me later.)

I've seen semicolons used when they should have used a comma, colon, em dash, etc.  But oh, don't even get me started on dashes.  Hyphen when it should be en dash, en dash when it should be em dash...the horror!  The horror!

Uh, I think I feel way too strongly about punctuation.  Maybe I'll just stop here and go read the Chicago Manual of Style.


  1. I love the Chicago Manual of Style.

    Pretty much every time I read a magazine I want to send them my resume and say "Hey! I can do a much better job than your current editor. Please hire me immediately."

    Is that what you went to school for?

  2. Yes and no. I majored in English with a literature emphasis. Despite popular belief to the contrary, an English degree does not mean you'll automatically be able to write well. I had a knack for it to begin with, and actually spent my last year in school training and then working at the university's Writing Center.

    What's funny is that they force you to use MLA for everything (and I even had to learn APA for a few classes), then I get to real world jobs and everyone uses Chicago. Everyone.

  3. I'm with ya on the semicolons. I teach my third graders how to use them to connect a compound sentence. That's pretty high-end for an 8 year old.

  4. I humbly request that you disregard all punctuation in my comments - unless I use it correctly - as I did not have a forward thinking grammar teacher in my formative years.


Be nice.