Punctuation worth fighting for

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It was very disappointing to hear that the Apostrophe Protection Society is to close its doors: https://www.smh.com.au/world/europe/the-apostrophe-protection-society-and-its-founder-have-given-up-20191203-p53geo.html.

The founder, John Richards, said the “ignorance and laziness present in modern times has won”.  Unfortunately, these days too many people would ask “what’s the point of apostrophes anyway?”  But for us, correct punctuation in writing is a prerequisite.

Good punctuation is an essential part of good grammar which in turn is key to communication and understanding. 

As content development is one of the main services we provide, we believe easy to read, simple and persuasive writing is hugely important for all organisations and correct use of punctuation is crucial in this.  It makes a huge difference in emphasis, meaning and readability.

Readers might not immediately see that “it’s” had been used instead of “its” in a sentence, but it is likely to act as an unrecognised distraction reducing the impact of the copy.

There are countless guides on the role of punctuation and the difference it can make. A quick internet search produces lists of guides to grammar and punctuation, such as this: https://fivebooks.com/best-books/grammar-punctuation-mark-nichol/.

An easy to read guide is “Eats shoots and leaves” by Lynn Truss focuses on the difference commas can make and promotes a zero-tolerance approach to punctuation.

For business writing my favourite is still “The Art of Plain Speaking” by Charlie Corbett.  

Of course societal changes must influence the way we communicate, including the use of the written word.  You only need to look at the way texting has brought about its own practices and style to see how English is evolving.

But that doesn’t mean we should throw out all the rules. There needs to be pedants like us to slow down change and make sure the difference that good punctuation makes to the meaning of the written word is recognised.

We will be monitoring the fate of the apostrophe and hope that a new organisation springs up in its defence.  Or even that the Apostrophe Protection Society is reinvigorated with new support. If so, we will be signing up.

Meanwhile, this is our last blog for the year and we hope our readers have found them of interest.  Claudia and I, on behalf of everyone at Pritchitt Partners, wish you all happiness during the festive season and a prosperous 2020.

This blog was originally published on LinkedIn.