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There are several sources of information available if you want to delve into punctuation further. Each of us has our own preferred learning style so I’ve listed here a book, and a few online options.

A book?

Nowadays , so much is available on the Internet, you rarely need to buy a book. However …

The Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors – which is only available as a hardback book – has a section for punctuation which runs from page 329 to page 332 in my 1981 edition.

The alphabetical list of word entries include hyphenation rules, abbreviations and words which are one rather than two and vice versa, eg on to (not onto).

In the 1980s, I was working as a freelance copyeditor/proofreader and referred to this little book frequently – until I almost knew the content by heart.

Since then, many new editions have been published but the majority of the rules stay the same.

I also relied heavily on Judith Butcher’s Copy-editing: The Cambridge Handbook for Editors, Copy-editors and Proofreaders.

The section on punctuation is small but it includes a lot of information about the publishing process.

Simply the best. And this is now available on Kindle.

Online resources

The Chicago Manual of Style offers a subscription to their online resource.

Elizabeth O’Brien’s Grammar Revolution is my go-to online source of information about grammar and punctuation. If you want to understand grammar better, she has a wonderful way of teaching.

Another source is Grammar Mechanics who offer an online course with lots of animation and music. Bit too in-your-face for me, but it may appeal to some!

Human resources

You are your own resource. Free (apart from time) to check your own punctuation.

If you belong to a writer’s group, there may be others who are ‘hot’ on punctuation and only too willing to point out your mistakes. Learn from them!

And then, before you publish, it’s imperative to employ – yes, pay for – a professional.

  • If you employ a development editor early on, it’s unlikely they will fix your punctuation. Their focus will be on structure, characters, the plot, etc.
  • A copy editor / line editor would be expected to fix punctuation. Make sure that task is included in their brief.
  • If your book then goes through formatting, a proofreader is also essential.

The more eyes, the better …