How punctuation works
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How punctuation works book
Each punctuation mark should convey a signal to one's reader and be noticeable only to punctuation vigilantes. The American novelist Ernest Hemingway, renowned as a sparse stylist, apparently never used the semicolon, but he doubtless knew it existed. Writing needs to use punctuation to help convey meaning, particularly in formal, professional writing. Creative writing often subverts ‘normal’ punctuation for narrative or dramatic effect, and that’s fine. The fifteen punctuation marks that writers regularly use are the full stop, the comma, the colon, the semicolon, the apostrophe, quotation marks, the question mark, the exclamation mark, en and em dashes, the hyphen, round brackets, square brackets, the slash, and the ellipsis. Although the comma is one of the most common and apparently unobtrusive of punctuation marks, commas can be surprisingly powerful, as the following anecdote demonstrates.