Bette Nesmith Graham made a huge impact on the business world. Never heard of her? Most haven’t. She changed the way the business world corrected errors. She combined her secretarial background and artistic interests to invent “Mistake Out,” later renamed Liquid Paper.
Spell checkers and grammar checkers have also changed how we proofread and edit. So, are these tools helping us?
Tuesday, September 24, is National Punctuation Day. In its honor, let’s look at how effective Word’s grammar checker is with punctuation. And yes, punctuation marks are used for more than emoticons!
You can choose how errors are detected by changing the following punctuation style settings:
Comma required before last list item. Sometimes called the serial comma or Oxford comma, it’s the comma before the conjunction (and, but, or) in a list of three or more items. It’s a matter of style whether you use it; most magazines and newspapers omit this comma. I suggest using it for clarity in business writing. Whichever style you use, consistency is important, especially within the same document. Word can check for this comma, although you’ll need to change the setting because the default setting is don’t check.
Punctuation required with quotes. Should you place periods and commas inside or outside the quotation marks? That depends on where you live: British English places them outside; American English places them inside. Semicolons and colons are always placed outside the quotation mark. Again, Word doesn’t check this placement unless you change the default setting.
Check out the step-by-step instructions below to change the default settings and to learn more about the settings.
More Punctuation Settings
Two more punctuation settings are included in Word’s grammar checker for grammar and style errors:
Grammar: Punctuation. This setting detects errors for incorrect punctuation including commas, colons, end-of-sentence punctuation, multiple spaces between words, or a semicolon used in place of a comma or colon.
Style: Punctuation—stylistic suggestions. This setting detects unneeded commas in date phrases, informal successive punctuation marks, and missing commas before quotations.
Are you still awake? Even after several hours of testing these punctuation settings, I haven’t cured my insomnia. I love this stuff!
Check it out below. See what works and what doesn’t work for these settings to help you proofread and edit your documents.
Please tell me how you will be celebrating National Punctuation Day! I hope not creating new emoticons!
Judy Beaver, The Office Pro
Founder of National Proofreading Day