“Avoid” unnecessary punctuation and formatting!!!!!



Incorrect Example

Correct Example

a) Never double or triple the exclamation mark or the question mark.  Use the exclamation mark sparingly. 

This is annoying!!!!!!

Don’t do it!!!!!


b) A colon is not needed after a preposition or linking verb. 

This book is by: Gary Paulsen. 

The room will be painted: blue. 

This book is by Gary Paulsen. 

The room will be painted blue. 

c) Avoid the slash. 

    This is annoying to the reader. 

When he / she wants / wishes for this and / or that… 

When people desire many material objects… 

d) Prefer the humble comma to its fancier cousins

(parentheses), the long dash – , [brackets], or even the semicolon;.

Rewrite the sentence to avoid them if it is possible. 

The old man (who worked as a waiter) left before nine. 

The old man, who worked as a waiter, left before nine. 

e) A comma is not needed between the subject and the verb, even if the subject is long. 

The boy that came late wearing a blue hat, spilled the punch. 

The boy that came late wearing a blue hat spilled the punch. 

f) A comma is not needed between the verb and words that describe the subject (predicate adjectives or predicate nouns). 

He was, anxious and nervous. 

He was anxious and nervous. 

g) There must be at least three items in a list to need commas.  Do not use commas to separate only two items. 

He ran down the hill, and grabbed his bike. 

He ran down the hill and grabbed his bike. 


An excessive use of exclamation marks is a certain indication of an unpracticed writer. 

H.W. Fowler, author
The King's English (Oxford Univeristy Press, 1906)