After posting about my flat phone and waking up naturally idea last night, I decided to mitigate some of the risk of me waking without an alarm and open my curtain (yes, just one) so that (maybe; hopefully) the change in the light between night and morning might help wake me up.

And I was right! I woke this morning, checked my computer to see the time was 6:58am. SWEET! in fact that's exactly what I said to myself "Sweet!" I said, snuggling smugly back under the covers with a warm sense of achievement that I had been able to wake up without the aid of an alarm clock.

Then I woke up at 7:38pm - the time I usually leave for work. Stupid falling-back-to-sleep-without-even-noticing!


DISCLAIMER: I ended up being 6 minutes late which is bad (at my work) but I had worked an extra 35 minutes the day before (not that that ever seems to count for anything) so in my mind, although I'm disappointed with my morning - it all evens out in the Laws of my Universe.


I know I am the least qualified to start any paragraph with the heading 'punctuation'. I'm a serial offender: over-comma user; inappropriate hyphenator; lord only knows I'm not that well acquainted with a full stop! In the last few days I've had to prepare a few conference Powerpoint presentations, and then sit through a bunch of other presentations at the actual conference. I've seen some creative use of punctuation during that time and, in the creation of the presentations, I have been instructed to use punctuation incorrectly. Specifically it has been (a confusion/misconception, incorrect) the use of the semicolon and colon in bulleted lists.

Unlike the English language, I don't believe that punctuation is mailable. It is quite binary in my opinion. You're either using it correctly or incorrectly - there isn't a lot of gray areas in grammar.

So when I'm told to correct my bullet list from this:

  • item one;
  • item two;
  • item three.

to this;

  • item one:
  • item two:
  • item three:

So I'm going to quote from my trusty Style Guide for a ruling.

The colon is a marker of relationship and sequence. It can be used after a clause to introduce additional explanatory information, or it can introduce indented material such as a dot-point series, examples, block quotations and questions. Other useful functions of the colon are to link a title with its subtitle and to introduce formal statements, transcripts and dialogue.

The break provided by the semicolon is stronger than that provided by a comma but weaker than that created by a full stop. The semicolon can therefore be used to link two clauses that could be treated as separate sentences but that have a closer logical link than such separation would imply. Another important use for the semicolon is separating a series of phrases or clauses that also contain commas. Although the semicolon is often neglected, it is a very useful punctuation mark and, properly employed, can bring elegance and variety to your writing.

My vigorous argument, when pressed to use a semicolon to introduce the list and colons at the end of each list item, included firm finger pointing to pages 99 and 101 (quoted above) of the Style Guide. At which point I was informed that this particular manager had her own style of punctuation which I was to follow.

Cut to the conference presentations and I noticed that a leading academic who gave a brilliant presentation on querulous paranoia and vexatious litigants used the exact same convention!

How do you feel about punctuation - do you feel it's a black and white issue, or something that has more flexibility than I'm suggesting? Do you have any examples of horrendous punctuation abuse? What's the most vexing of these to you? I know there are at least half a dozen of my readers who are wonderful pedants and will definitely have an opinion on this. I'd love to hear - though no slinging stones in my direction cos yawl know I'm mediocre at best in this area.