A writer can never have too many word guides, and I have just finished reading the Penguin Guide to Punctuation (ISBN: 9780140513660). I can recommend it for a couple of reasons:
- It is £7.99 (although it can be bought for less than this), so it is a good stocking filler gift for any friends and family who don’t know what to buy you this Christmas.
- It is 162 pages, so it’s a thin volume, which means it’s not a daunting book. Some word guides go into so much detail that they frighten you from using them. This is not one of those books.
- It is easy to read. The author, R.L. Tracks, discusses punctuation in a light-hearted and concise way. It’s highly readable (so much so, I devoured it in two short sittings).
What I particularly liked about this is that it gives plenty of examples of correct usage, as well as several examples of incorrect usage (and then explains why these examples are incorrect). It’s extremely good at differentiating between British and American conventions. (For example, in Britain we would write 7.00 a.m, whereas in America they would write 7.00 AM.)
RL Trask explains everything clearly and with humour. (“An exception: the names of holy books are usually not written in italics. Thus, we write about the Bible and the Koran, with not italics. Don’t ask me why.”)
So, if you’re looking for an easy-to-use, clear, concise guide to punctuation that you can read from cover to cover, or dip in and out of as you like, then this would make an ideal addition to your bookshelf.