By: Rita Ray | September 24, 2019

em dash (width of an m), en dash (width of an n), and hyphen

The em dash is a flexible bit of punctuation—and one of my favorites. You can use it in place of other punctuation. Ben Yagoda, author and professor of English at the University of Delaware, said in an opinion piece in The New York Times, “The Parenthetical Dash can stand in for a pair of commas or parentheses. The Pause Dash can take the place of a period, comma, semicolon—or nothing at all!”

Be careful not to confuse an em dash (—) with the shorter en dash (–) or the even shorter hyphen (-). The em dash is the width of an M. You’ll likely see the em dash written without spaces on either side—however, in newspapers (many of which follow The Associated Press Stylebook) do add spaces around the em dash.

Though it is flexible, it’s not a one-...

Category: Just for Fun 

Tags: Punctuation 

By: Rita Ray | April 23, 2019

White teddy bear reading. Quote from Ms Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO which says, A window onto our inner lives, books are also the doorway to mutual respect and understanding between people, across all boundaries and differences.

World Book Day, also known as International Day of the Book and World Book and Copyright Day, is celebrated annually on April 23. In 1995, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) created World Book Day to encourage “everyone, and in particular young people, to discover the pleasure of reading and gain a renewed respect for the irreplaceable contributions of those who have furthered the social and cultural progress of humanity.

April 23 is a particularly significant date in literature. Authors of note have either been born or have died on this date. In fact, in 1616, Cervantes, Shakespeare, and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega all died on this date.

To learn more, visit the United Nations page about World Book ...

Category: Just for Fun 

Tags: Holidays 

By: Rita Ray | March 21, 2019

Image of an interrobang in a blue circle

Wouldn’t it be great if there was punctuation that both elicited excitement and disbelief? Today, people use a combination of a question mark and exclamation point (“?!”) to express this in informal writing, but back in the early 1960s, the interrobang (“‽”) had its moment of fame thanks to advertising executive Martin Speckter. In 1962 Speckter introduced the interrobang as a “typographically eloquent way in which to end a statement that expresses excited disbelief, asks a question in an excited manner, or proposes a rhetorical question.” Due to its popularity, some typewriters included an interrobang key.

The interrobang was short-lived, however. By the time the late 1960s rolled around, people had reverted to using the combination of...

Category: Just for Fun 

Tags: Punctuation 

By: Rita Ray | October 24, 2018

Random list of prepositions

Have you ever heard the rule where you should never end a sentence with a preposition? Well, that's not quite true in all situations.

First off, what is a preposition? Basically, prepositions are words that express a relationship between a noun or pronoun with another word or element. They can describe the position of something, time when something occurs, or the way in which something is done.


Mignon Fogarty suggests in her book, Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing, to see if the meaning of the sentence changes if you take away the preposition. Fogarty's example is "cheer up." "He cheered" means he is either a fan or cheerleader and "he cheered up" means he became happier.


Category: Myths Busted 

Tags: Prepositions, Rules 

By: Rita Ray | September 24, 2018

Picture of a comma

Happy National Punctuation Day! Founded by Jeff Rubin, National Punctuation Day is celebrated in the United States and has been celebrated every year on September 24 for nearly a decade and a half. At Proof It, we’re going to celebrate the holiday by taking a brief look at the comma

Aristophanes of Byzantium was a Greek literary critic and grammarian who became the chief librarian in Alexandria, Egypt in c. 195 BC. Around this time, writers wrote with no spaces between their words justlikethisandleftittothereader to figure it out—now imagine sentences and paragraphs crammed together like this. As you can tell, that caused some issues. Aristophanes suggested using dots of ink aligned with the middle (·), bottom...

Category: Just for Fun 

Tags: Punctuation