Jeff Rubin (owner of Put It In Writing Newsletter Publishers) declared September 24, 2006 National Punctuation Day and managed to get it included in "Chases' Calendar of Events," making it practically official. In celebration of good punctuation and the back-to-school season, I've collected the following sites.
"Use an em dash sparingly in formal writing. Don't use it just because you are uncertain about correct punctuation. In informal writing, em dashes may replace commas, semicolons, colons, and parentheses to indicate added emphasis, an interruption, or an abrupt change of thought." Jane Straus' Blue Book is organized into rules with examples (navigate these with the drop-down menus), exercises and tests. The quizzes are not interactive (try printing them instead) and include answer keys on the same page.
This interactive punctuation game from British author Lynne Truss is based on her best-selling "Eats, Shoots & Leaves" grammar book. The title of her book is based on the following grammar joke. Panda walks into a restaurant and eats lunch. When the check arrives, he takes a gun from his pocket, shoots into the air and runs out of the restaurant. The waiter chases after him, shouting about the bill. In response, the panda tosses him a badly punctuated wildlife manual and says "I'm a panda. Look it up." The waiter opens up the book and reads, "Pandas: eats, shoots and leaves."
From "apostrophe" to "virgule," Fact Monster explains fourteen punctuation marks. Although brief, each rule includes a sample sentence, and many include links to other Fact Monster resources. For more grammar help, click on Word Wise in the left-hand menu. What's a virgule? You might know it as a slash or a slant: "/".
This comprehensive grammar guide is my punctuation pick of the day because it includes many examples, good advice and dozens of interactive quizzes. For example, a comma is used to separate three or more items in a list. But the last comma ("often called the serial comma or the Oxford comma") is usually omitted in newspaper writing. Visit The Guide's comma page to learn when you must use the serial comma, and when you can get along without it.
"Before discussing specific punctuation marks, we want you to know one important fact: punctuation is simple." Although Gary Olson, of Illinois State University, only covers the colon, semicolon, comma, dash and apostrophe, he does so with great style and buckets of examples. "Instead of listing many rules, as a grammar book does, we discuss these various marks in general so that you can get a sense of how to use them in your own prose."