Would you like a comma with that?
I have heard it described as a traffic cop. Another writer compared it to throwing a drowning person a lifeline. However, the analogy I like the most is that of being a courteous host.
To what do I refer, you ask? Why, proper punctuation.
How is using correct punctuation like being a courteous host? For one thing, our readers are guests to our writing, just a certainly as if we were having them over for a quiet dinner and drink. When we have guests over, being good hosts, we make sure they are comfortable, have what they need, and are entertained as appropriate.
The same things are true when we invite readers to our writing. We want to make sure they are comfortable, cared for, and entertained during their visit. Well, perhaps the purpose of our writing is something other than entertainment. Yet, whatever its purpose, we want our writing to be successful, to accomplish its purpose.
Using correct punctuation helps us, in writing, to be courteous hosts. Writing with poor punctuation, on the other hand, tells our readers that we are unconcerned with their visit and their time.
Now in saying all that, am I suggesting that if one of us was to botch the placement of an apostrophe or sprinkle a few too many commas around that our otherwise compelling rambling would not be worth a plugged nickel? In short, no. I am not saying that.
Yet, the courteous writer will take care, to the extent they are able, to do right by their readers. Perhaps an example will server to illustrate. The following came on a postcard advertisement in the mail today:
My first time reading this, I stumbled straight past the second line and onto the third before I realized that I had missed—or, rather, that the writer had missed—the period after “MALL”.
I suppose, when weighed against other issues, a missing period is not that big a deal. It isn’t. Still, on the scale of a mass-mailed postcard sale announcement, I feel the company should have done me and all the other recipients the courtesy of correct punctuation.
28/Dec/2006 – Courtesy Comes in Different Forms 6 comments