With Punctuation, It’s the Little Things

Punctuation RulesPlease welcome back Keri Clapp, professor and tutor for the Law School Toolbox and Bar Exam Toolbox, to discuss the importance of proper punctuation, as well as strategies to ensure your writing is clear and leaves a good impression on your reader.

Commas, periods, and semi-colons may be the smallest marks on the page, but they can cause big problems. Punctuation is critical to clear communication because it serves as a visual cue telling the reader what you are saying and how you are saying it. Incorrect communication can confuse your message–you may have seen in the cartoon joke, “Let’s eat grandma! Let’s eat, grandma! Punctuation saves lives!”

Beyond confusing your intended meaning, incorrect punctuation is “like waving a red flag to a bull.” The phrase is an allusion to a matador waving a red flag during a bullfight to get the animal to charge; it refers to a willfully infuriating or aggravating provocation. When a legally trained reader sees a punctuation error in a piece of writing, that error is like the proverbial red flag drawing the reader’s attention to the mistake. Don’t let your readers conclude that you are careless or unskilled; learn how to catch common errors and upgrade your writing. [Read more…]

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