Strategy 27: Punctuation

Strategy 27: Punctuation
[Compare this to my brief notes. Also make notes of Journalist’s Primer examples.]
Again they have a selection of issues, or rather, questions to raise.
1. Are there two independent clauses joined by a conjunction? Use a comma:
He will conduct the interview, but she will write the story.
2. For phrases not clauses that follow the conjunction, no comma (this is called the serial or
“Oxford” comma, but I think its days are numbered):
He will write the story and conduct the interview.
3. No serial comma: apples, oranges and pears.
Unless the items in the series are long.
She will conduct the interview after she gets back, write up the story if she has time before dinner,
and call her editor after it is finished.
4. Use comma before attribution: It was a very useful meeting, Olson said.
Also if it’s after a quote: “We had a very useful meeting,” Olson said.
Also if what is quoted is a full sentence, precede it with a comma:
As she left the building, Olson told reporters, “It was a very useful meeting.”
NOT if the quote is a partial sentence:
Olson told reporters that she was “very pleased with the outcome.” (Reader will read through, so
there’s no need for a pause. Note period inside the quote)
5. Use comma to set off non-essential information:
Sue Smith, 45, was at the meeting.
Also for “nouns in apposition” i.e. ones that are synonyms for a noun:
My wife, Kathy, is at home.
NOT My wife Kathy is at home. (What does that sentence mean?)
6. Commas (and periods) always go inside quotation marks:
“It was very successful,” Olson said.
1. Use before a complete sentence and capitalize the first word(AP differs from others on this):
The editor told his staff: The newsroom needs better equipment.
2. Use before a statement that is an incomplete sentence:
The editor told his staff: no more free lunches.
1. It can join two independent clauses if they are related:
It’s going to be a nice day; maybe we should have class outside.
(Note you could also make it two sentences to please me and Kurt Vonnegut, or use a conjunction
e.g. “so.”
2. If there’s a series that contain commas:
Camping requires clothing, footwear and utensils; a tent in good condition; and lots of food.
1. To join compound adjectives before a noun:
a state-of-the-art computer
a full-time reporter
BUT He works full time as a reporter. NOT for adverbs that modify and adjective:
a swiftly flowing stream (compound is implied)
2. After a noun and a form of the verb “to be”:
The editor, who is well-respected, hired the new reporter.