Punctuation tips

Ahhh the poor hyphen. Of all the horizontal punctuation marks, it’s the shortest and fattest and a little bit unloved. In fact, the Oxford English Dictionary culled 16,000 of the little blighters back in 2007, squishing previously hyphenated words together or dropping the hyphen completely.The humble hyphen is used to join two or more words together to form a new...

Friend and SEO colleague, Rob Dobson, emailed me this pic this afternoon from the Fulham Road, London. Hmmm…nice shop. Poor sign.But La Maison is in good (bad?) company. Take a look at these corkers that have been sent to the MSN News site recently. Do not cling? Do not climb? Or what the heck. Let's have both.Yeah, help us reduce crime against...

Depressing news in The Independent this week: Overseas students are better at English than British students.According to Professor Bernard Lamb, who carried out the research, British undergraduates are nearly three times more likely to make errors in written English than those from overseas.Depressing? Yes. Surprising? No.After spending a year studying the written work of his students, Lamb was appalled by...

The semicolon is a seriously abused and underused bit of punctuation.  And often abandoned (wrongly) in favour of the colon or the comma. But once you know how to use it you'll wonder how you ever lived without it. Seriously. It's that handy.Ok, so here's a brief overview to get you on your way. The semicolon has two main uses.1. It...

Ok, this is a short answer. A full stop appears inside the brackets, if the bracket contains a complete sentence.She wore the red dress that evening. (Her sister wore the gold one.) John needed the answer for question 7. (Jeff was struggling with question 1.)The full stop appears outside of the brackets if the brackets don't contain a complete sentence. She wore...

Used correctly, punctuation can often be the difference between a blah blah statement and a really powerful headline. Take this sign at my local gym.Our weight loss course lasts 12 weeks and the results could last a lifetime. It's not wrong. It's just a bit dull. So what's missing? How about a semicolon? A semicolon joins two complete sentences which are closely...

Trawling the interwebs this week I came across this little beauty (names have been removed to protect the innocent). There are three issues that are consistently addressed in our work: client needs, purpose, cost + the site, its context, history + materials, light, volume. Hmmmm. I'm guessing there's punctuation missing. Some semicolons probably. Or a comma or six.  But nope, I have...

Named after the Oxford University Press where it was first used, the Oxford comma - a comma before the word and - is often avoided in British English but used in the US. For example: In the US they write: Red, white, and blue. In the UK we write: Red, white and blue. For some reason, us Brits often feel quite weird...