'Punctuation…?' – a review

‘Punctuation can help you write and communicate more clearly, if people better understand what it is you are saying or trying to communicate to them, it is more likely that they will either consider your effort or do what you intend.’
So says the blurb on the back of a book I was sent to review. I suppose running a writing challenge it was presumed that I would not only be interested but also have some idea of the quality of the piece. Well I was interested but having read the book am completely baffled!
It feels more like a pamphlet but at £10 it clearly is more than that. There is no introduction although there is an index of the order of the punctuation marks. That was where I started to be confused. The order is

  • apostrophe
  • brackets (3 types)
  • colon
  • comma
  • dash

The full stop is number 9 having ellipsis and slashes before it. It is immediately followed by Guillemets. Now hands up if you know what those are!
My concern lies in the fact that the book is advertised as suitable for ‘wide age range ( young to ageing) and intelligence (emerging to expert)’. Sharing it with a group of adults who are reasonable up with grammar and punctuation, they were amazed at some of the examples given, remembering that this was a book designed to help with the correct use of punctuation.
The illustrations are pen sketches that provide humorous examples to aid understanding.
This is illustrating …By then, however, I could not go any further and missed the bus.


This one is is for …Listen mate (Bobby), you do not want  to mess with me.

There are a number of clumsy examples:

  • I wish you would let me [Mr Hill] make you reconsider (about square brackets)
  • ‘The estate agent stated that it would be “not much” at the viewing.’ (about quotation marks)
  • The vinyl had a red sticker and blue (?) record sleeve.

The explanation of a semicolon is very muddling:
Its main role is to indicate a separation between two parts of a sentence that is stronger than a comma but less strong that dividing the sentence in two with a full stop. Normally the two parts (clauses) divided by a semicolon, balance each other (unlike the use of a colon (:) which links or unpacks the two)

There is no doubt that ‘Punctuation…?’ is a thorough book with more than enough punctuation marks. My concern is that it is being advertised as suitable for youngsters as well as adults. For this reader, the order should start with the easy punctuation marks and move towards the more complicate, less used ones. That way, folks can stop when they want.

Are you a pendant when it comes to punctuation?

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