BN.com Gift Guide

Punctuation at Work: Simple Principles for Achieving Clarity and Good Style [NOOK Book]

Overview

In the workplace, good punctuation is much more than a matter of correctness. It's a matter of efficiency. Professionals who aren't sure how to punctuate take more time than necessary to write, as they fret about the many inconsistent and contradictory rules they've picked up over the years. Good punctuation is also a matter of courtesy: In workplace writing, a sentence should yield its meaning instantly, but when punctuation is haphazard, readers need to work to understand - or guess at - the writer's intent. ...
See more details below
Punctuation at Work: Simple Principles for Achieving Clarity and Good Style

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$10.49
BN.com price
(Save 24%)$13.95 List Price

Overview

In the workplace, good punctuation is much more than a matter of correctness. It's a matter of efficiency. Professionals who aren't sure how to punctuate take more time than necessary to write, as they fret about the many inconsistent and contradictory rules they've picked up over the years. Good punctuation is also a matter of courtesy: In workplace writing, a sentence should yield its meaning instantly, but when punctuation is haphazard, readers need to work to understand - or guess at - the writer's intent. Weak punctuation results in time-wasting confusion, questions about professionalism, and some times even serious and costly miscommunication. Without using the jargon of grammar - and providing 18 common sense principles to live by - Punctuation at Work shows busy professionals exactly how the marks can be used to make meaning clear and emphasize ideas. All the marks are covered, with hundreds of examples taken from today's workplace. From hyphens and semicolons to brackets and quotation marks...all the way to ellipses (and the eternal struggle between "that" and "which"), this book explains the many ways punctuation makes things plain.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"The book made me laugh out loud a number of times - something I thought impossible for a book about punctuation. Launchman employs powerful examples that make proper punctuation easy to understand and to put into practice." -- About.com Online Business/ Hosting

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814414958
  • Publisher: AMACOM
  • Publication date: 2/17/2010
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

RICHARD LAUCHMAN through his company The Lauchman Group, has been training professionals, in the area of writing, for over 25 years.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Introduction

This book is for those of you who have to write at work and want clear,

commonsense guidance on punctuation. It concerns the usages that

are simple, useful, and appropriate in workplace writing, where the

chief goal of any document is to convey information as efficiently as

possible. Other sorts of writing may seek to enthrall, beguile, amuse,

or contribute to the body of human knowledge. But busy executives

are not hoping to be enraptured or moved to giggles by an audit report.

They want to know, right away, whether they need to take action. And

one reason why corporate policies aren’t written in Shakespearean

verse is that readers of policies are neither seeking nor expecting a literary

experience. They simply want to know, in the clearest language

possible, what their rights and responsibilities are.

Certainly, in the writing we do at work, our readers deserve this

“clearest language possible.” I think it’s healthy to take pride in your

writing, and sensible to care about it, but wise to realize that the main

aim of style in workplace writing is to make things easy for the reader.

I’m going to show you how punctuation can contribute to simplicity of

style. In practical terms, the marks are nothing more than tools for

tightening the nuts and bolts of the airy stuff we call meaning. They’re

as unglamorous and mundane as any collection of wrenches and

screwdrivers—and once we get rid of the stupefying half-truths and

fallacies about them, they’re just as easy to use.

Why So Many Professionals Are Befuddled by

Punctuation

No one is born with a sense of where to put a comma. The kitten

knows how to pounce, but the child lacks instinct for hyphenating his

compound adjectives. We all have to learn how to punctuate, and that

means we’re at the mercy of those who teach us.

After a quarter-century of teaching writing in the workplace, I’m

no longer surprised by the sloppy and confusing punctuation I see in

most business, technical, scientific, and regulatory writing. What still

surprises me is the number of people who insist that they never received

any instruction in the matter. They do not say they never got

any “good” instruction or any “reasonable” instruction; they do not say

they were confused to the point of paralysis by inconsistencies in what

they were taught. What they say is that they were never taught how to

use the marks. And the frequency of this complaint is increasing. In

the United States it is possible these days to proceed through high

school, college, and graduate school with one’s instructors encouraging

the joys of expression and assuming that teaching clarity of expression

is someone else’s responsibility.

This is not to say that punctuation is never taught along the way,

because it usually is—in ways that make a practical man’s hair stand

on end. Often, instructors explain only a few crude and elementary usages,

leaving unexplored the numerous options essential to a good

writer. (I may be expert at wielding a sledgehammer, but if that’s the

only tool I know how to use, what do I do when I have to extract a

splinter?) The guidance writers receive from one year to the next can

be slapdash and whimsical, governed by the individual instructor’s personal

preference, taste, and overall feel for what constitutes good writing.

From one year to the next, this guidance can be conflicting and

even contradictory. As a freshman one may learn that using parentheses

is practically an immoral act; as a sophomore that parentheses are

useful, but that dashes are villainous; and as a junior that dashes are

the cat’s meow, but that semicolons are the footprints of a chucklehead,

or at least evidence of careless thinking.

It should come as no surprise that some instructors, ham-handed

or not, simply do not know the conventions of meaning and form. Others

may be unaware of important distinctions of usage. Such instructors,

often with great force, insist that however must always be

followed by a comma, that which must always be preceded by a

comma, that items in any bulleted list must be followed by semicolons,

and so on. There are plenty of English teachers and composition instructors

who are either mistaken about certain conventions or who

were taught the British conventions. In either case, what they plant in

fertile and impressionable young minds are the seeds of confusion and

error.

And then we have those who learned correct usage decades and

decades ago, when (for example) cooperate required a hyphen, and it

was considered the pinnacle of good taste to introduce abbreviations

with great formality, as in American Telephone and Telegraph Corporation

(hereinafter referred to as “AT&T”). Usage has changed since then.

We have all been annoyed by the weather reporter on the radio who

tells us there is a zero chance of rain while we have the windshield

wipers on maximum. That reporter is reading from a script, not looking

through the window to see what’s really going on. And instructors who

do not bother to read well-written current stuff—to read it with their

eyes open, noticing how the marks are truly used—continue to report

from the 1960s and to insist that archaic conventions remain in force.

To this bubbling stew of misguidance, we add the two absurd

methods of instruction that have victimized writers for decades. The

first of these methods is what I call the “sound-bite” method. An example

is the famous “Put in a comma where you’d take a breath.” The

second is one we might call the “I-can’t-explain-it-simply-so-I’m-going-

to-use-jargon” method. An example of this one is the terrifying

and ultimately meaningless rule “A non-restrictive appositive used as

a summative modifier is set off with a comma.” Ninety-nine percent of

the people I work with day in and day out do not remember the jargon

of grammar, if indeed they were ever exposed to it. Is it any mystery

why people need help with punctuation?

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Author's Note 9

Definitions 11

What You Need to Know First: 19 Principles 21

1 Punctuation can't rescue sense from nonsense 21

2 The main reason to punctuate is to clarify your intent 23

3 One of punctuation's tasks is to supply the various signals given by the voice 25

4 In workplace writing, a sentence should yield its meaning instantly 28

5 Punctuation should be invisible 31

6 Punctuation follows the arrangement of words 33

7 Punctuation indicates how ideas relate 36

8 Punctuation suggests how much emphasis an idea deserves 38

9 Punctuation slows the reading 41

10 Don't count too much on context to make your meaning plain 45

11 Know the difference between restrictive and non-restrictive expressions 48

12 Respect the distinction between that and which 52

13 When is punctuation optional? 58

14 Use the serial comma 65

15 When do I separate adjectives with a comma? 68

16 Use the hyphen to clarify "improvised usage 72

17 Sometimes, no matter how you punctuate, a reader is going to think it's wrong 78

18 Feed your head 79

19 When you see an odd usage, consider the source 80

The Marks 83

Appendix How to List Ideas 175

Notes 189

Index 197

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)