Here is a short post on best practices for punctuation. A great review for some of us who forget…or for those who are anal about their writing.
Most of us need to review punctuation from time to time. Let’s begin, shall we?
I highly recommend The Elements of Style by Strunk&White. I keep it handy on a nearby shelf.
If you want to write long sentences then use the period wisely. There is no magic to sentence length, but don’t make too much work for the reader if you want your stuff read. If you are writing for the web, sentences should be shorter anyway.
The exclamation point
This one is used to show excitement, but don’t over-use it or it will sound like you are shouting at the reader. William Zinsser says don’t use it for humor, be more subtle. If you want to make a point it’s better to restructure the wording.
Most of us used this to carefully balance sentences. It’s meant to pause the sentence. Many writers still use this, but it’s become “old school.” A long dash is a more modern way to write balancing two ideas. Often the semicolon is used in very long sentences.
It’s best used to list items. Again, it’s kinda outdated, like the semi-colon. In its place, you can use the long dash, but be careful, the short dash is not the same thing. Use it in more formal documents.
It has replaced both the colon and semicolon. Most of us didn’t learn to write like this in school. The short dash pushes the sentence forward to amplify the second part of the sentence. The long dash is mainly used to add an explanatory detail that would have required a new sentence. It’s tricky to get your keyboard to do this properly. I have struggled with this one.