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The Associated Press Guide To Punctuation
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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.
Cappon is a terrific writer, and anyone else who writes would benefit immensely from this lucid guide to punctuation.
This book is not a total disaster, but I can hardly recommend it.
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
simple, short, straightforward and oddly…humorous. It is a excellent review for someone who already has the solid basics. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Peter C. Mead
Required text for school. Nothing exceptional about the deal or the experience.Published 12 months ago by Drew Levy-Neal
If you write -- even if it's just a friendly blog or rants on your Facebook page -- you need this book. As well as the AP Stylebook. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Stroppy