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The Associated Press Guide To Punctuation Paperback – January 7, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-0738207858 ISBN-10: 0738207853
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jack Cappon has served as the AP Newsfeatures editor, the AP Managing Editor, and as the AP General News Editor. He is the author of The AP Guide to Newswriting, a well-worn and oft-referred-to primer for journalists on all rungs of the media ladder.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (January 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0738207853
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738207858
  • Product Dimensions: 4.5 x 0.2 x 7.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #128,840 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 53 people found the following review helpful By J. Ott VINE VOICE on May 2, 2004
Format: Paperback
Written with lively and direct prose, Rene J. Cappon's guide to punctuation succeeds in being a useful resourse for the busy journalist. No reader need fear about getting bogged down in the finer points of periods. If such a situation threatens to occur, Capon is quick to suggest a workaround. This leaves the stickiest questions even stickier, a real prickle for someone as persnickety as me. But for the journalist, or journalism student, I heartily recommend it.
To those looking for a deeper understanding of punctuation, I caution against this slim tome. Organized into seventeen chapters by punctuation, some of them no more than a half of a page ('The Ampersand') and some as many as sixteen ('The Comma'), the AP GUIDE TO PUNCTUATION lacks the philosophical depth and historical background of recent bestseller EATS, SHOOTS, & LEAVES as well as the dry grammar books of days past. The examples, while fun, are not nearly as comprehensive as one expects in any book that bills itself as a reference.
By way of example, here is the entire entry for Irregular Plurals under 'The Apostrophe':
---
Irregular plurals also take the apostrophe: <i>children's hour, women's rights, gentlemen's traditions, men's club</i>, and so do nouns that are the same in singular: <i>the single moose's antlers, the deer's track, the two corps' travels.</i> The apostrophe stays whether the meaning is singular or plural.
---
No mention is made that it is preferable to disambiguate the singular and plural in such cases. Especially in journalistic writing, where clarity and simplicity are the twin grails of good style.
A dedicated journalist might prefer a true grammar of the English language or the complete and comprehensive AP STYLE BOOK. While they may be dry, they will certainly go a good deal further in answering the questions that arise in all aspects of writing.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Auntie Kitten on December 10, 2003
Format: Paperback
As a professional editor for nearly two decades, I heartily recommend this book. Cappon's writing is clear, funny, and creative, and he makes the nuances of punctuation memorable. His reasoning is logical, and his explanations and examples are very helpful. Interestingly, though this is an Associated Press publication, some of the style differs from the official A.P. Stylebook. So if A.P. is your background, be aware of this.
Cappon is a terrific writer, and anyone else who writes would benefit immensely from this lucid guide to punctuation.
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41 of 49 people found the following review helpful By James B. Apple on March 3, 2005
Format: Paperback
It appears that some fool edited the cautionary examples for correctness. (p. 34) The grammar is poor ("verboten" as a noun? (p. 85)), and the usage is non-standard (Commas are "trundled out"? (p.37)). Some passages are self-contradictory ("With Adjectives, p. 37).

This book is not a total disaster, but I can hardly recommend it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By OneHeart on November 11, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
This is not a remedial book or a dense, scholarly book. It's an in-between kind of practical book that offers a lot of useful examples that you can quickly skim.

The chapter on commas alone is worth the price of the book. I'm not exaggerating when I say that this chapter alone will change your professional life.

Here's why: Many of us learned in first or second grade that a comma is a pause. The teacher told us this because we were new to the written word and, while scrawling our first sentences in unsteady handwriting, we had to be reminded incessantly to apply a period, a space and then a capital letter. I volunteer in elementary schools, so it's fresh in my mind how much children struggle to remember those seemingly arbitrary details.

Then, after we get that down, the teacher throws a new form of punctuation at us, the comma. We recoil and freak out a bit. The teacher says, "The period is a full stop and the comma is a pause." We relax a little and begin to apply the new punctuation mark.

Unfortunately, that's the last time anyone tells most of us anything about commas. Consequently, as grownups who now write professional documents, we apply commas willy-nilly whenever the voice inside our own head hears what could be identified as a pause.

Nooooo!

Every comma has a reason for being. Commas are not subjective. They are not pauses.

This book will clarify that for you, primarily through examples. (Hooray! *Finally*, your ambivalence and errors can be put to rest.)

I create and give writing and critical-thinking workshops, including a few different kinds related to copy editing. I use this book with my top students.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By David G. Dixon on December 4, 2008
Format: Paperback
Cappon's book is sloppy, rushed, and incomplete. I can't recommend it to anyone.

The same Pope quotation is trotted out twice (p. 34 & p. 76), the second time clumsily, and both times Cappon renders it incorrectly.

Page 40's entry on commas in series includes a misspelling ("stuf") and a violation of the rule covering capitalization after a colon (which can be found on p. 28).

The "Hands Off" warning from the chapter on quotation marks is dogmatic about handling speech in its raw form: "Grammatical and other errors are the speaker's problems, not yours." Yet what practicing journalist transcribes every "um," "uh," and false start the recorder captures?

When a book that purports to help writers offers more in the way of hindrance--and can't trouble itself to take its own advice--it can only be judged a failure.

This is another post-Strunk & White writing guide that prizes brevity over clarity and cuteness over completeness. If the AP wants a useful punctuation guide, it should start from scratch.
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