Punctuation Matters : Advice on Punctuation for Scientific and Technical Writing book cover
4th Edition

Punctuation Matters
Advice on Punctuation for Scientific and Technical Writing

ISBN 9780415399821
Published November 20, 2006 by Routledge
160 Pages

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Book Description

Punctuation Matters gives straight answers to the queries raised most frequently by practitioners in computing, engineering, medicine and science as they grapple with day-to-day tasks in writing and editing. The advice it offers is based on John Kirkman’s long experience of providing courses on writing and editing in academic centres, large companies, research organisations and government departments in the UK, Europe and in USA. Sample material discussed in the book comes from real documents from computing, engineering and scientific contexts, giving the guidelines an immediately recognisable, ‘true to life’ relevance. The advice is down-to-earth and up-to-date.

It is clearly set out in three parts:

  • part one states a policy for clear and reliable punctuation
  • part two gives a series of alphabetically arranged guidelines, to be ‘dipped into’ for guidance on how to use the main punctuation marks in English
  • part three contains appendices on paragraphing, word-division and how conventions of punctuation differ in the UK and the USA.

Punctuation Matters is the essential guide for everyone who has to write in scientific, technical and medical contexts, with clear explanations on punctuation, what it does and how to use it.

Table of Contents

Part 1: Policy  1. Difficulties Caused by Lack of Punctuation  2. The Jobs Done by Punctuation Marks  3. The Relation of Punctuation to Intonation and Stress  4. Is 'Open' or 'Light' Punctuation Enough?  5. How Punctuation Helps Reading  6. Reducing Uncertainty by Punctuating Carefully  7. Absence of Punctuation May Damage Your Credibility  8. Redundancy as Helpful Reinforcement  9. The Lazy Writer's Evasion of Responsibility  Part 2: Guidelines  1. Apostrophe  2. Capital Letters  3. Colon  4. Comma  5. Dash (em rule and en rule)  6. Ellipsis Points  7. Exclamation Mark  8. Full Stop  9. Hyphen  10. Inverted Commas (or Quotation Marks)  11. Parentheses (or Brackets)  12. Question Mark  13. Semi-Colon  14. Slash  15. Underlining  16. Variations in Printing: Bold Type and Italic Type  Part 3: Appendices  Appendix 1: Paragraphing  Appendix 2: Word-Division  Appendix 3: Differences in punctuation in American English and British English

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John Kirkman is a communications specialist who runs his own consultancy specialising in technical and scientific writing.


"…it sets out in readable and clear prose all the basics and many of the subtleties of punctuation that science and technical writers need to know." -- Karen Lane, Technical Communication, Vol. 55, Number 1, February 2008