Punctuation Marks: Power Tools for Clear Writing!

By: Michael A. Jones

Is punctuation becoming less important? Certainly there is less of it in modern writing. But less important? Emphatically NO!

Just look at three examples to see how punctuation marks can add style and power to your writing.

BULLETS

Bulleted lists are extremely effective in capturing the interest of your audience.

Persons who browse the internet want to find information quickly. They want to be able to read it easily without having to wade through pages of text.

Bullets direct the eye to the main points quickly.

They encourage writers to be brief, stating the main point in a few words or a phrase.

They summarize a list of points or conclusions.

Bottom line: If you want to write effective copy, USE BULLETS!

COLON :

Enrich your writing style with discreet use of the colon. It is generally used to introduce something that follows. Here are some places where a colon is well used

To introduce a list

Example: Send the letter to the following departments: Sales, Marketing and Admin.

To introduce a quotation

To introduce a question

To introduce a conclusion

Example: The conclusion of the matter was: Let bygones be bygones.

QUESTION ?

The most obvious use of the question mark is at the end of a sentence which asks a direct question.

Example: Where are you going this weekend?

However, when an indirect question is raised a question mark is not needed.

Example: She asked me if I enjoyed her cooking.

The question mark can also be used to create other effects:

To declare

Example: Did you really think you could get away with this?

Here the question mark tinges the expression with anger and frustration.

To exclaim

Example: Isn't that a beautiful sunset?

The question adds force to the statement making it an exclamation.

To invite an answer

Example: This seems the wrong color, don't you think?

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