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Happy Punctuation Day!

In the United States, today is National Punctuation Day. I almost missed it. Nevertheless, I did use dozens of periods (full stops), many commas, several colons, a few dashes, and even a semicolon in a piece I wrote this afternoon.

How about you? Did you write today? If so, did you use punctuation confidently or timidly?


If you struggle with which punctuation mark goes where, here are some steps to increase your confidence:

  1. Visit the National Punctuation Day site for a concise review of commas, colons, and more. Then practice using one mark each day.
  2. Review my punctuation pointers on this site.
  3. Complete a few lessons in the archives of Daily Grammar.
  4. Drop by Grammar Hell and enjoy illustrations of incorrect punctuation and usage.
  5. Purchase a small, easy-to-use guide such as Jan Venolia’s Write Right! Slip it in your pocket and study it in quiet moments.
  6. Pick up a detailed style manual such as The Gregg Reference Manual or The Associated Press Stylebook. Look up the topics you haven’t mastered yet. (For example, when is it correct to use ‘s and s’ and just s?)

It’s easy to go through life without celebrating or even knowing about National Punctuation Day. But it’s impossible to write well without knowing about those little marks it honors. If punctuation is not yet your friend, take one of the steps above.

National Punctuation Day. It doesn’t require a phone call home, a flowery greeting card, or a bright bouquet of flowers–just a healthy respect for the em dash, the apostrophe, and an occasional pair of parentheses.


Posted by Lynn Gaertner Johnson
By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English. She grew up in suburban Chicago, Illinois.