Good punctuation is essential when writing copy. By understanding a few key items, you will be able to communicate and express your ideas clearly.
Apostrophe or no apostrophe?
Apostrophes can be hard! So don’t assume that just because you’re about to put an S on the end of a word, it requires one. Apostrophes are only required when:
- You have taken letters out (when “you are” becomes “you’re”)
- You want to show possession (“Lana’s laptop”).
There are basically three types of dashes: em-dash (the width of a capital M: —), en-dash (half the width of an em-dash: –), and hyphens (the one on your keyboard: -).
Oxford (or serial) Comma
The Oxford or serial comma is used before the ‘and’ in a list, like this: “red, green, and blue”. If you went to school in Australia, you were probably taught that a list looks something like this: “red, green and blue”. The AGSM agrees, unless a serial comma is required for clarity. If you went to school anywhere that teaches non-Australian English, you were probably taught to use an Oxford comma, because it’s clearer. So, if you are writing for Australian audiences, and your meaning can’t be misconstrued, feel free to leave the Oxford comma out. If, like me, you think it helps make things clearer, go ahead and use it. You get to choose in this case!