by Jeff Rubin, Founder, National Punctuation Day
Have you ever been turned down for a job because of incorrect punctuation on your application form and the HR manager thought you were illiterate!
(See, you may think I’m yelling at you because I ended the last sentence with an exclamation point instead of a question mark. Now do you see the importance of proper punctuation?)
Without punctuation you would not be able to express your feelings in writing not to mention know when to pause or stop or ask a question or yell at someone (a run-on sentence). And without punctuation (a semi-colon) you would not be able to separate independent clauses; do you know what those are? (This is an example of two independent clauses.)
Punctuation (like the other components of good writing, including spelling, grammar, capitalization, etc.) has been devalued by a generation of computer wizards who ask, “What’s the point? Nobody writes in complete sentences anymore.”
Inaccurate Punctuation Can Be Costly
People at Rogers Communications learned otherwise. Canada’s largest telecommunications company had an attorney who misplaced a comma in a contract with a company that agreed to string Rogers’s cables across the Maritimes. A Canadian court said ignorance of correct punctuation was no excuse and invalidated what was believed to be an ironclad five-year contract. That errant squiggle cost Rogers $2.13 million. (You can read about this case at http://www.NationalPunctuationDay.com )
The rules of proper punctuation haven’t changed just because of computers. Casual shortcuts bred by e-mailing and text messaging have no place in professional business writing, where words wield power and decision-makers form impressions immediately. Clarity and attention to detail remain imperative; careless punctuation mistakes cost time, money, and productivity.
National Punctuation Day September 24
National Punctuation Day on September 24 draws attention to the importance of proper punctuation. It’s a day for librarians, educators, and parents – everyone interested in teaching and promoting good writing skills to students and children. It’s also a day to remind business people that others judge them based on how they present themselves in writing.
Yes, proper punctuation is important — especially when a misplaced comma, as Rogers Communications learned, can alter the meaning of a sentence and cost a lot of money!
How to Participate in National Punctuation Day
What can you do to participate in National Punctuation Day on September 24?