They say that Irish patriot Roger Casement was hung on a comma. Who’d have thought that such a tiny mark could cause such controversy? Yet that’s the effect misusing punctuation can potentially have. Certainly, in everyday communication, it can lead to misunderstandings.
Here’s why paying attention to punctuation is a good idea.
- It removes ambiguity. A stray comma or full stop may cause people to read a different meaning from your content than what you intended.
- It gives your sentences room to breathe. Because it divides up the text, the text is easier to read and people have a chance to pause and digest your points.
- It adds a professional sheen to your content. Punctuation in its right place shows that you’re serious about what you do.
Caring about punctuation is not just the preserve of people who keep a copy of Eats, Shoots and Leaves* in their pockets. Good use of punctuation on a business website makes it easier for customers to understand what you’re about and to buy from you. And for writers, it means editors are more likely to take their word seriously. Ultimately, caring about punctuation means money in the bank.
*Eats, Shoots and Leaves, by Lynn Truss, is a book that takes a humorous and enlightening look at how punctuation has changed over the years.