Determining what represents good writing is somewhat subjective, but good writing should always be free of misspellings and grammatical and punctuation errors. These "mechanics" of writing are fundamental to effective communication and your mastery of them - or lack thereof - creates a certain impression of you when people read your work. Technical flaws in your writing style may distract clients, employees or customers from your message and cause you to appear less credible as a source of information.
Here are a few reminders to give your writing a tune-up so the substance of your written communications can better shine and - for those of you writing for media - be consistent with AP style.
A hyphen is not a dash. Hyphens are joiners. Use them to avoid ambiguity or to form a single idea from two or more words: Proper hyphen use:
Dashes are used to indicate an abrupt change in a thought or sentence, to create an emphatic pause, or before an author's name at the end of a quotation.
Proper use of a dash:
There is a correct way to write clock time. Use figures with a space after the last figure but no space in the abbreviation, which should be lowercase. Don't use figures for noon or midnight.
How to use apostrophe placement in decade references. An apostrophe should replace omitted numerals in decade references, but should not be used to show plural. To show plural, simply add the letter "s."To indicate a relationship between a decade and the noun or phrase that follows it, use an apostrophe after the "s," not before it.
I hope these tips help you tune-up your writing. Please share your own punctuation tune-up advice and pet peeves. And don't forget to spell-check!
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