You know how important it is to proofread your work for spelling and grammar mistakes but do you check your punctuation too?
Using the wrong punctuation can spoil your writing as much as spelling mistakes so it’s important to get it right. Here are six common punctuation mistakes to avoid.
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1. Two spaces after a full stop
Typing two spaces after a full stop is a hangover from the days of typewriters. Because each letter the typewriter printed occupied the same amount of space, using two spaces made it easier to see where one sentence ended and the next began.
Unless you’re using a mono-spaced font, such as Courier, there’s no need to do this when you are typing on a computer, so keep it to one space.
2. Ampersands in body text
An ampersand (&) is a single character used in place of the word “and”.
It should only be used in things like company names though. Like Proctor & Gamble or Lea & Perrins, and never in body text, ie. never use an ampersand within a sentence.
3. Extended ellipsis
Ellipsis is the correct name for the three dots used to show that words have been removed from a sentence (…). They’re often used within quoted text or to show an unfinished thought at the end of a sentence.
An ellipsis should only ever be three dots. Don’t shorten it to two and don’t ever be tempted to extend it to four or five dots.
4. Introducing lists with a semi-colon
A semi-colon is used to join two complete, related statements into one sentence. Both statements should work as separate sentences but joining them with a semi-colon helps to vary the pace of your writing.
A semi-colon (;) should never be used to introduce a list – that’s what a colon (:) is for.
5. Using a colon and a dash
While we’re on the subject of lists you should never use a colon and a dash (:-) to introduce a list. It’s punctuation overload and there’s no reason to use both, so stick with a colon.
6. Multiple exclamation marks
This is another example of excessive punctuation. You might use one exclamation mark to show emphasis or excitement and then use several exclamation marks because you want to show that something is extra exciting!!!!
But as you can see all it does is make you look like an hyper puppy. Multiple exclamation marks should never be used, especially in business or formal writing.
It can be easy to get your punctuation wrong. But if you proofread carefully and avoid these common mistakes your writing will instantly be more professional and easier to read.
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