Because excellent punctuation demonstrates a writer’s command of sentence structure, grammar, and style, punctuation needs to be taken seriously. Punctuation illuminates the structure/topography of writing to readers. Clear structure clarifies the meaning of writing. It is necessary to learn how punctuation marks reveal structure and relationships between words in a sentence and, in doing so, clarify meaning. A grammatically incorrect sentence that’s perfectly punctuated is possible, but not an incorrectly punctuated sentence that’s perfectly grammatical.

This chapter covers the main punctuation marks: the apostrophe, the comma, the colon, the semicolon, the hyphen, em and en dashes, the ellipsis, brackets, the question mark, the exclamation mark, quotation marks, and the slash. At the conclusion of this chapter, a figure presents a set of sentences that demonstrates the punctuation patterns for the main punctuation marks.