Punctuation. Custom Essay Writing

   

Punctuation

But the latest editions of the college handbooks have allowed question marks not part of the quotation to go outside of the quotation marks. Hence, my example above now should be written, Did Nixon really say, "I am not a crook"? I have been told that this change follows the change in printing technology from mechanical presses to computerized printing. When hot type was used, little letters made of lead were covered with ink to imprint the letters on paper, but the ink often would not cover the lonely little punctuation marks outside of the quotations. So the word went forth that henceforth all punctuation must go inside the quotation marks to satisfy the needs of the machines of production. Marx would've loved it. But what once was required in printing can now be changed. Printers no longer use hot type but instead use computers, and computers can do anything. Hence, the old rule may be changed in favor of more rational considerations. The Brits, I am told, have made punctuation follow rational meaning. We Americans have compromised. Periods and commas still stay within the quotation marks even if not part of the quotation, but exclamation points, question marks, and other assorted marks not part of the quotation do their business outside. This is another example of how our language is constantly changing. In American culture, nothing ever remains the same. Prepare to be flexible and stay tuned.

Note also that a quote within a quote gets single quote marks to distinguish it from the surrounding quotation. This is the only instance in which single quote marks are to be used. For some reason, more and more students are using single quote marks by themselves within their papers, perhaps because newspaper headline writers do. I don't know why. But it's wrong.

Finally, words when referred to as words, like the word "word," get put in quotation marks.

Parentheses ( ), Brackets [ ], and Dashes --

All of these are overused.

Parentheses are used to insert material into the text that is out of context. Most of the time, such material should either be omitted entirely or brought into the text in its own sentence or paragraph if it is important enough. Students too often use this device to jam extra information into the text in the hope that quantity will outweigh quality in the grade book. It won't.

Brackets are used primarily to insert material into the middle of a quote that is not part of the quote. If Cotton Mather has some brief line of Greek and you want to include your translation within the quote, then put your translation directly after the Greek in brackets. Otherwise, don't use brackets.

Emily Dickinson used dashes instead of punctuation. But she was not writing either for publication or for a college assignment. Besides, she was crazy. Students who use dashes are either indulging in a lazy habit or trying to show off. Often, I cannot tell if the mark is a dash or a hyphen. Rather than separating words, these actually connect them. The point of a college paper is to prove that you know how to do it right. Strictly speaking, dashes perform the same function as parentheses, so play it straight and use regular punctuation. Plenty of opportunities to be creative will occur if you graduate.

If you must insert parenthetical information in dashes, do so sparingly, and if your word-processing program won't create the long dash (--), use double hyphens--like' this--so that someone won't read the words as "use double hyphens-like."

 
   
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