Punctuation..? – Book Review

punctuation2Punctuation..? published by User Design Books is a short guide for using common punctuation marks. The blurb actually says it covers ’21 of the most used punctuation marks’, which I found a little embarrassing as I hadn’t heard of half of them! Pilcrow, interpunct, guillemets… I’m sure I’ve come across a couple of those in my Guide to the Birds of the British Isles…

Anyway, the book has been doing the rounds for a while and has been reviewed by a lot of ELT blogs. I find this a tad annoying as all the good punctuation-related puns have been taken, and I’m not going to sit here and think up something clever to say about colons.

So, to the book. Its 35 pages, each one has a short description (very concise in some places) for a particular punctuation mark, with half the page taken up by a quirky illustrations. Actually, quirky is an understatement – most of the people have cows hooves for arms, there are Pinocchio-like policemen, a football that looks like a plug socket, and the smallest mug of ‘Builder’s tea’ I’ve ever seen.

punctuationIn fact, focusing on the actual text of the book does it a bit of a disservice. The author clearly didn’t intend for it to be a serious point of reference – it is more a vehicle to advertise the self-publisher’s skills in illustration. It does this very well. The descriptions that do exist are brief yet informative. They normally give an explanation of the punctuation mark in a sentence or two, then provide one or two examples of use. As I said, they are not aiming to be comprehensive!

It is worth buying the book for the drawings alone, but it say its purpose is limited. If there is a particular audience, it’s probably more designed for writers than teachers. However, it’s no substitute for a proper reference book on punctuation. There will undoubtedly come a time when having the book on my desk in the staffroom will help me win an argument about something extremely pedantic. My guess is that the argument won’t be about pilcrows.

Since we’re on the topic, here’s a nice video from Victor Borge. I must ‘dash’ for now…

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