The Seven Deadly Sins of Punctuation

While there are countless ways to ruin good writing, there is probably no quicker way to lose writing credibility than by exhibiting punctuation errors. Punctuation is the visual cue in our language that we use to increase comprehension, to change speed and tone, and to improve the overall reading experience. Plus, punctuation can completely change meanings. Consider this now-famous sentence where the words remain the same, but the punctuation changes:

A woman, without her man, is nothing.
A woman: without her, man is nothing.

Two perfectly fine sentences. Two completely different meanings. When punctuation gets messed up, so does the intended meaning of the writer. If you want to improve your writing, start with the basics: understand your punctuation and stay out of Punctuation Purgatory!

Here’s my list of the Seven Deadly Sins of Punctuation. There are certainly many more errors you can make when using the 15 punctuation marks we have in English, but if you avoid these most deadly, sinful errors that fall in the punctuation pits of purgatory, you’re writing is much more likely to sound, well, heavenly.

For more punctuation tips, please go to the Punctuation Portal. To purchase a 20×30 version of this poster, visit the shop.

Related Graphics

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The Periodic Table of Punctuation



5 thoughts on “The Seven Deadly Sins of Punctuation

  • July 24, 2014 at 12:17 am

    I like it, but could we get a version with all the corrections?

  • September 14, 2014 at 9:15 pm

    I, too, would love a version with the errors corrected. Great info, but I can’t get past the misspelled “paradise” at the top.

    • September 15, 2014 at 1:56 pm

      Jean, thanks for the heads-up! I’m embarrassed that I didn’t see the blatant spelling error. I have fixed the problem and I appreciate you letting me know!

  • September 17, 2014 at 11:10 am

    Great info. “Hightlight” sticks out like a sore thumb though.

  • February 10, 2015 at 8:13 am

    I would have found this more useful if it included examples of correct usage, but it is useful none the less. Thanks. 🙂

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