Don’t punctuate just in case you need to

Often I find that some writers create confusion among their readers by introducing unnecessary punctuation into their writing.

Why do people add incorrect apostrophes when writing about the 1960’s or PC’s, when 1960s and PCs are not only correct, but much simpler?

Perhaps it is because they are unsure of when and where to use an apostrophe and think it safer to insert one just in case it is needed?

If you’re not confident about using a certain aspect of punctuation, either read up about it in a reference book or on the web – there are many online resources – or rewrite your text so that you do not have to use it. In the longer term, it’s better to try to understand it so that you have the confidence to use it correctly in the future.

What do you do if you find there are two schools of thought on the point in question? That can be more difficult and you will have to decide which side you agree with. One way to help decide is to see how writers you respect handle this element of punctuation. Do you agree with them?

It’s not always simple, but trying to write well is worth the effort.

Robert Zarywacz