As with grammar, there are many rules for mechanics, but here I will cover the ones that cause many article writers the most problems.
Mechanics refers to the standard practices for the presentation of words and sentences, including capitalization, punctuation, and spelling. As with grammar, there are many rules for mechanics, but here I will cover the ones that cause many article writers the most problems.
Capitalization is necessary both for specific words and to start sentences and quotes. However, many writers overuse it. Only six occasions require capitalization:
1. The first word of a sentence
2. Proper nouns (names of people, places, and things)
3. The first word of a complete quotation, but not a partial quotation
4. The first, last, and any other important words of a title
6. The pronoun I, and any contractions made with it
There are dozens of punctuation marks in the English language. They’re used to separate ideas, form words, and make the meanings of sentence clear. Poor punctuation can confuse your readers and change your intended meaning. For example, one comma completely changes the meaning of this short sentence:
Don’t call me, stupid!
Don’t call me stupid!
Here’s a quick punctuation review:
IF YOUR PURPOSE IS TO USE THIS PUNCTUATION EXAMPLE
a. end a sentence period [.] Use a period to end a
b. connect complete sentences semicolon[;] A semicolon can connect two
or a comma [,] and sentences; it is an excellent
a conjuction [and, or, to show that two ideas are
nor, for, so, but, yet] related.
c. connect items in a list comma [,] but if one or The table was overturned, the
more items in that list mattress was torn apart, and
has a comma, use a the dresser drawers were
semicolon [;] strewn all over the floor.
The castaways included a
professor, who was the
group’s leader; an actress;
and a housewife.
d. introduce a quotation colon [:] or comma [,] Colons have three functions:
introducing long lists,
introducing quotations, and
He said, “This simply won’t
e. indicate a quotation quotation marks [" "] “To be or not to be?” is one
of the famous lines from
f. indicate a question question marks [" "] Why are so many engineering
students obsessed with
g. connect two words hypen [-] brother-in-law, well-known
h. separate a word or dash [-] I never lie – never.
phrase for emphasis
i. separate a word or phrase parenthesis [( )] There is an exception to every
that is relevant but not rule (including this one).
j. show possession or apostrophe [‘] That’s Jane’s car.
Proofreading for spelling errors after you’ve run a spell-check program means looking carefully for real-word errors. If you typed tow instead of two, that mistake is still in your essay, waiting for you to find it. A simple tip is to use the professional proofreading tricks on my other article ( http://bookstove.com/book-talk/how-to-proofread-your-article-for-grammar-mistakes-confusing-words-sentence-agreement-run-ons-and-sentence-fragments/ ) to scan for mistakes.