Penguin Guide to Punctuation by R. L. Trask
Focusing on British and Commonwealth punctuation, but also explaining American usage, this text contains clear and up-to-date definitions of each type of punctuation. It includes the correct use of capital letters, contractions and abbreviations, italics, boldface and the special characters available on a word processor.
I can never remember specifically doing punctuation at school. Well, not to any real degree of intimacy. And if I did, I must have forgotten it all because if you asked my the rules on colons and semicolons and that blasted apostrophe, especially after words ending with an s, well I’d be doomed. So, as a writer I though I’d better take my craft a bit more seriously and look it up.
This book is absolutely wonderful. It’s small book. It’s concise, to the point and easy to understand. It goes through each piece of punctuation chapter by chapter and breaks it down, explaining the rules and giving examples. It starts easy with the second chapter (the first is on why the need to learn to punctuate) being about the full stop, question mark and exclamation mark. It then goes in for the kill with the comma. Seriously. The comma. No, the rule about using the comma when you need to breathe isn’t correct. Did you know there are actually four uses of the simple comma? Four!
Yes, I will be keeping this book by my laptop as I work.
It goes through abbreviations, quotation marks and quotes within quotation marks. It really is comprehensive for such a small book.
If you’re a writer and you maybe want to make sure you’re getting your punctuation right (and this book gives the UK and US versions) then I’d highly recommend this book. I know I will keep dipping into it every now and again just to remind myself about some of the rules. And yes, I’ve been very careful in the writing of this post!