Words for Directions

Remember that the words that represent directions — north, south, east, west — in any form are capitalized when they represent a recognized geographical area. This presumes that you might have to have some information about a region to know whether it is “recognized.”

Here in Los Angeles, for example, people would recognize “West L.A.” and “East L.A.,” but we don’t have a “north L.A.” I would not say, “I live in north L.A.” as it would not mean anything to anyone.

…vacationing in the Northwest…
…going to South America…

When the word represents a direction, it is not capped.

…driving south for several hours…
…moving north of the city…

This rule does not work when you have a word that might represent a direction but that does not contain one of these four directions.

Happy punctuating!


Good Grammar — finally!

My grand “experiment” is just around the corner. It is my firm belief that a better and improved knowledge of how English really works — the grammar — would solve at least half of all punctuation issues. In addition to just knowing more about something we use intimately, you are going to make your job easier by having a better knowledge of grammar.

So my “experiment” is to see just how many people want to make the financial and time commitment to join a grammar class.

“Make your life easier! Learn more about something you use every day! Earn CEU’s!” are the screaming headlines I would use to advertise this class.

The class will be 1.2 CEU’s — six sessions over three separate and distinct weekends.

May 4 and 5, May 18 and 19, June 8 and 9 — Saturday sessions from 8:00 to 10:00 A.M. PACIFIC time and Sunday sessions from 5:00 to 7:00 P.M. PACIFIC time. It is $400 for reporters (just $35 per CEU) with a discount for teachers/students/scopists/proofreaders.

Register at


Happy punctuating!



Good Grammar (finally)

Just want to let you all know that my big “experiment” is just around the corner — an “experiment” because it is something I have not tried before.

So often the problems we encounter in punctuation are because of a lack of understanding of how the grammar works “behind the scenes.” I decided last year that I would attempt to give an abbreviated grammar class sometime this year. I strongly believe that an understanding of the basics of grammar is more than half the time the answer to a punctuation dilemma..

So here it is!!! 1.2 CEU’s — 12 hours of grammar — a mini-course

The Word “So” — Again

We continue to struggle with this word “so” — so little and so much trouble!!

When “so” means “in order that” and implies the reason for doing something, it is a subordinate conjunction that begins a dependent clause, and there is no punctuation.

…walking slowly so I wouldn’t miss anything…
…going to see her so I could give her the forms…

When “so” means “therefore,” it starts a new sentence and takes a semicolon  or a period in front of it.

…I had to leave early; so I missed the announcement…
…The doctor was in surgery; so he wasn’t available…

The problem is that many people think “so” is like the word “and.” But “so” is an adverb by nature. When it is pulled out to the front of the sentence and made into a conjunction, it behaves like the words “then” and “still” and “hence.” It starts a new sentence.

There is no comma after it because it is one syllable.

Happy punctuating!


Sequential References

When there is a word in front of a number that tells what the number is representing, the word is capped with five exceptions: page, line, paragraph, verse, size. The number is always in a figure.

…from Chapter 5…
…is Exhibit 4…
…to Section 15…

…on page 4…
…through line 15…
…to paragraph 3…

If the word number is said, it should be in the form of “No.”

…sat is Seat No. 3…
…has License No. 1543…

Check out my new word pairs book!! It is here!!

Happy punctuating!


The Word “Then”

This post was motivated by a FB question.

The word then is generally an adverb with the meaning “at that time” or “next.” As an adverb, it does not take punctuation.

…We were then visiting friends in the Santa Barbara area.
…She then filed the paperwork with the State.
…Then I turned left at the next corner.

If it is not an adverb, “then” is a throwaway word that does not really have any meaning in the sentence. As a throwaway, it takes commas around it.

…Are you saying, then, that he is a part of your firm?
…We will talk about that a bit later, then.

Happy punctuating!