Looking for a resource

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Watcher55
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Looking for a resource

Post by Watcher55 » May 25th, 2011, 12:13 pm

As part of my continuing education, I need to sharpen my punctuation and mechanics skills. Is anyone aware of any resources (from textbooks to blog sites even - gulp - How To books) that focus primarily on punctuation in prose? enrolling in a cour$e i$ not an option at this point.

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Re: Looking for a resource

Post by cheekychook » May 25th, 2011, 12:22 pm

The Chicago Manual of Style was my bible when I used to copy edit text books. You can usually pick a used copy up pretty cheap, and I believe they're online now as well.

Funny as it may seem, used English text book and workbooks go over the basics pretty well and always a cheap find.
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Re: Looking for a resource

Post by dios4vida » May 25th, 2011, 12:24 pm

I second cheekychook. The CMS is an absolute necessity. I got a copy for my birthday and it's been my favorite ever since. Dunno how I ever wrote without it!!

If I think of any more I'll chime in again, but I really highly recommend you grab yourself the CMS.
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Re: Looking for a resource

Post by Watcher55 » May 25th, 2011, 1:00 pm

Thanks y'all. I think I had workbooks and textbooks in the back of my mind (just to kind of brush up on the things I've forgotten), with the intention of graduating, so to speak, to a solid standard.

It turns out the CMS is online, and the publisher offers a 30 day free trial. I think I'm going to con a school librarian friend of mine to rescue a textbook from the recycle pile, before I sign up and waste any of the 30 days. I've already given the guy at Applegarth's a heads up that I'm looking for a hardcopy of CMS.

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Re: Looking for a resource

Post by polymath » May 25th, 2011, 1:03 pm

Aside from style manuals, application is an excellent exercise. Trial and error, practicing usage, contrasting and comparing sorts of exercises.

Yeah, I've got Chicago Manual of Style, and several other style manuals each respectively to a specific discipline. I don't have them memorized, not entirely. Some style principles I need to look up from time to time. And I'm versed in who, which houses, use which manual and each's fundamental guiding principles. Mostly their differences are space consciousness and respective formality of register, a voice attribute on an axis from formal to informal.

A pointer, punctuation serves one purpose, to facilitate reading ease. At milestones on a writer's journey, punctuation goes from being intuitive to disciplined to self-imposed discretion. The intuitive phase puts whatever punctuation wherever stops are indicated.

Readers mostly read as they would speaking aloud, roughly 150 words average per minute. A comma is a breath, at least and serves so many other functions. A period is full stop. Stop, uh, isn't that what telegrams used instead of period? An exclamation mark is a bang!. A semicolon says as follows connects to the former. A colon says as follows and also what follows and more strongly connects. A forward slash says or, as in and/or (and or or). A hyphen says and, as in tractor-trailer (tractor and trailer), nurse-practitioner. A question mark is a query. Quote marks mark cites, saying so-and-so said. Apostrophes represent omissions and possessions. Braces, brackets, and parentheses are for parenthetical asides. Ellipsis points indicate omissions. Dashes represent interruptions.

Every punctuation mark indicates a change in pace, a pause, a stop, a cue for focus. The strength of a pause is proportional too. A word space is the softest pause. In an ascending order of pause; space, apostrophe, quote mark, hyphen, comma, period, question mark, semicolon, colon, exclamation point, ellipsis points, dash, parentheses, bracket, brace, line break, paragraph break, page break, section break, chapter break, book break, novel break, end break. Stop.

A disciplined approach rigorously follows prescribed principles that facilitate communication effectiveness.

A discretionary approach uses punctuation, or omission, for artful expression, which nonetheless facilitates communication.

It's worth noting in a room full of writers the better writers are the ones whose lips move while they write. They nonconsciously sound out the words and punctuation marks as they write, as their audience will read them.
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Re: Looking for a resource

Post by Sommer Leigh » May 25th, 2011, 1:35 pm

I also use the APA publication manual for a lot of information because this style is required for my grown up job and is not exactly the same thing as the Chicago Style Manual. New editions come out every couple of years, sometimes more often, so you can get a copy of the previous edition pretty easily (and way less expensively) from used book shops. For the basics, not a lot changes from edition to edition. I know the latest edition of the APA manual came out like two years ago and most of the changes in it had to do with website use. Now is a very good time to go shopping at used book stores or anywhere that college textbooks are sold: MANY college English courses require a copy of the Chicago Manual for use in class, and many of these get sold at the end of the semester. With classes just ending, I bet you can pick one up pretty easily. I think I have 3 copies from college for various different editions that my profs insisted we have. I think it is possible I even sold a couple back along the way. My favorite copy of the Chicago manual is a half page sized spiral bound pocket manual. It has a silver cover and is FANTASTIC for everyday use.
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Re: Looking for a resource

Post by Watcher55 » May 25th, 2011, 2:05 pm

polymath wrote:Aside from style manuals, application is an excellent exercise. Trial and error, practicing usage, contrasting and comparing sorts of exercises.

Yeah, I've got Chicago Manual of Style, and several other style manuals each respectively to a specific discipline. I don't have them memorized, not entirely. Some style principles I need to look up from time to time. And I'm versed in who, which houses, use which manual and each's fundamental guiding principles. Mostly their differences are space consciousness and respective formality of register, a voice attribute on an axis from formal to informal.

A pointer, punctuation serves one purpose, to facilitate reading ease. At milestones on a writer's journey, punctuation goes from being intuitive to disciplined to self-imposed discretion. The intuitive phase puts whatever punctuation wherever stops are indicated.

Readers mostly read as they would speaking aloud, roughly 150 words average per minute. A comma is a breath, at least and serves so many other functions. A period is full stop. Stop, uh, isn't that what telegrams used instead of period? An exclamation mark is a bang!. A semicolon says as follows connects to the former. A colon says as follows and also what follows and more strongly connects. A forward slash says or, as in and/or (and or or). A hyphen says and, as in tractor-trailer (tractor and trailer), nurse-practitioner. A question mark is a query. Quote marks mark cites, saying so-and-so said. Apostrophes represent omissions and possessions. Braces, brackets, and parentheses are for parenthetical asides. Ellipsis points indicate omissions. Dashes represent interruptions.

Every punctuation mark indicates a change in pace, a pause, a stop, a cue for focus. The strength of a pause is proportional too. A word space is the softest pause. In an ascending order of pause; space, apostrophe, quote mark, hyphen, comma, period, question mark, semicolon, colon, exclamation point, ellipsis points, dash, parentheses, bracket, brace, line break, paragraph break, page break, section break, chapter break, book break, novel break, end break. Stop.

A disciplined approach rigorously follows prescribed principles that facilitate communication effectiveness.

A discretionary approach uses punctuation, or omission, for artful expression, which nonetheless facilitates communication.

It's worth noting in a room full of writers the better writers are the ones whose lips move while they write. They nonconsciously sound out the words and punctuation marks as they write, as their audience will read them.
Great tips, and I want to comment on a useful insight you’ve given me. I feel like I’ve moved on from intuitive and, self-styled maverick that I am, I experiment with self-imposed discretion, but it’s clear to me that I’ve forgotten too much of the discipline (read that; I never really mastered it in the first place) to recognize which standard I'm manipulating and why. It tends to inhibit growth.

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Re: Looking for a resource

Post by Doug Pardee » May 25th, 2011, 2:09 pm

There is, of course, the famous/infamous/notorious Eats, Shoots, and Leaves (American English version). It's probably a good place to start, but bear in mind that on a number of punctuation issues there is no consensus. So don't take it as gospel.

For the American-English book author, CMoS (16th Edition) is pretty much the final arbiter. Other style publications will disagree with various points, but if you're writing a book, follow CMoS-16 and you'll be in good shape. For spelling issues, CMoS-16 defers to Webster’s 11th Collegiate Dictionary.

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Re: Looking for a resource

Post by Watcher55 » May 25th, 2011, 2:18 pm

Sommer Leigh wrote:I also use the APA publication manual for a lot of information because this style is required for my grown up job and is not exactly the same thing as the Chicago Style Manual. New editions come out every couple of years, sometimes more often, so you can get a copy of the previous edition pretty easily (and way less expensively) from used book shops. For the basics, not a lot changes from edition to edition. I know the latest edition of the APA manual came out like two years ago and most of the changes in it had to do with website use. Now is a very good time to go shopping at used book stores or anywhere that college textbooks are sold: MANY college English courses require a copy of the Chicago Manual for use in class, and many of these get sold at the end of the semester. With classes just ending, I bet you can pick one up pretty easily. I think I have 3 copies from college for various different editions that my profs insisted we have. I think it is possible I even sold a couple back along the way. My favorite copy of the Chicago manual is a half page sized spiral bound pocket manual. It has a silver cover and is FANTASTIC for everyday use.
The pocket manual. That's for me - it'll look great on my desk >:} which reminds me, I lost (sniff) my LITTLE BROWN HANDBOOK (I think that's the title) my History Prof required us to use.

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Re: Looking for a resource

Post by Watcher55 » May 25th, 2011, 2:27 pm

Doug Pardee wrote:There is, of course, the famous/infamous/notorious Eats, Shoots, and Leaves (American English version). It's probably a good place to start, but bear in mind that on a number of punctuation issues there is no consensus. So don't take it as gospel.
I've always wondered if that was worth a look.

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Re: Looking for a resource

Post by Sommer Leigh » May 25th, 2011, 2:31 pm

Watcher55 wrote:
Doug Pardee wrote:There is, of course, the famous/infamous/notorious Eats, Shoots, and Leaves (American English version). It's probably a good place to start, but bear in mind that on a number of punctuation issues there is no consensus. So don't take it as gospel.
I've always wondered if that was worth a look.
I LOVE EATS, SHOOTS, AND LEAVES!!!!! I mean, it's not the end all be all of help, but it's a great little book :-) Also, the title makes me giggle uncontrollably EVERY TIME I look at it on my book shelf.
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Re: Looking for a resource

Post by craig » May 25th, 2011, 3:40 pm

Watcher55 wrote: which reminds me, I lost (sniff) my LITTLE BROWN HANDBOOK (I think that's the title) my History Prof required us to use.
I had to use that in one of my first year university courses -- it was the most useful book I've ever had on writing (at least for essays when it comes to the various referencing formats). I use it so much for out-of-school things, too, like punctuation rules. I asked my mom to buy me a new edition once as a gift and was so excited when I actually got it.

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Re: Looking for a resource

Post by polymath » May 25th, 2011, 4:45 pm

My ecru* Little Brown (publisher Little Brown) stands on the home office shelf ready to hand alongside Chicago, Strunk & White, an assortment of Websters' dictionaries and usage dictionaries, Uncle Shamus' dialects, Morson's, Dillman's, copyeditor's handbooks, sciences and arts and culture and music dictionaries, several thesarui and synonym dictionaries and crossword, Spanish, Latin, legal, and medical dictionaries, and an assortment of plant, animal, bird, and shell field guides. I've not bought an MLA, APA, AP, Times', CBE, or other style manual because I don't write or copyedit in the sciences or journalism. I have read them.

I have occasional recourse to Wikipedia's online style manual, refreshing my understanding of logical quotes particularly. I've also looked at Hart's Rules and Fowler's dictionary and usage dictionaries. Plus, of course, Oxford's Unabridged and online. Encyclopedias and other dictionaries spanning a hundred years of U.S. English, and an eclectic assortment of other references are shelved on another bookcase. A 1926 Funk and Wagnall's pocket encyclopedia is an especial treasure. There's a bookcase for casecover, trade paperback, and mass market paperback favorite novels and anthologies and nonfiction too. Also, several shelves for writing about writing.

I read Eats, Shoots, and Leaves. While entertaining and illustrative, a borrowed and returned library copy was good enough for my needs.

Then there's Miss Thistlebottom's Hobgoblins: The Careful Writer's Guide to the Taboos, Bugbears, and Outmoded Rules of English Usage, 1971, 2006, a fictional epistolary dialogue between an 8th grade prescriptive grammarian and author Theodore Bernstein, a New York Times editorial director. Bernstein contravenes all the thou shalt nots of high school grammar tyrrants. Thou shalt not ever, ever, ever split an infinitive, start a sentence with a conjunction, end a sentence with a preposition, and so on and so forth ad nauseam.

My cherished favorite book is a Porter's Chemistry, 1860. I keep it in a special box. I have a nipping press, aka a book press, of the same era. It weighs more than anything I own, save the car. Though a collector's item, I actually use it for the purposes it was made, pressing newly bound or rebound books while the glue cures. I picked it up from an itinerant blacksmith who was using it as a paperweight. I don't think he knew its value. It's a goldarned motherloving anchor.

* Ecru digital color space: (Hex: #C2B280) (RGB: 194, 178, 128) (Pantone 11-0809 TCX)
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