I don’t want y’all to worry too much. I still believe what I’ve said previously about punctuation: It serves clarity, voice and story, not rules!
I’m still me. :-)
Several of you (in emails) have mentioned an interest in playing with the quizzes, or doing a quick, interactive review. The first list is a bunch of basics, but useful review.
I find the second list more fun and helpful, but please see the disclaimer.
Here are a few which don’t indicate the stylebook they use (MLA? High-School?):
- Grammar Bytes Exercises: I haven’t had a chance to play here, but it doesn’t say which style it’s using. I’d guess whatever they teach in school. (Isn’t that MLA style?)
- A BBC Comma Tutorial, Game and Quiz
- Power Proofreading: Okay, it’s for kids. But it’s fun. It’s a little useful!
- Guild to Grammar & Writing: LOTS of quizzes! Fun!
- Quizzes: More quizzes, but not much on punctuation. Still, not a bad review.
- English Grammar Online 4U: You have to click on each subsection, and then go to the bottom of the “lesson” to get the quiz.
- Comma Quiz: By a college English teacher.
- Another Comma Quiz
This second list is based on the Associated Press Stylebook. I couldn’t find any based on the Chicago Manual of Style, which is often used more in fiction.
In my own fiction, I tend to use the Chicago Manual of Style, except for the comma. Several e-publishers tend to not use the serial comma and leave a comma out when possible, which is more in alignment with the Associated Press Stylebook. Almost all publishers have different style variations and quirks.
The main difference for fiction writers is quotations. Associated Press would have you put a colon before a quote with more than one sentence. This does not work in fiction, obviously.
The other difference is numbers. Associated Press spells out numbers 1-9, while Chicago spells out numbers 1-100. They both have their special cases, too.
I’m sure there are many other important differences to us, but as long as you keep those things in mind, playing the following exercises should be “safe,” LOL. Personally, I find knowing two different styles helps me know each one better, because knowing how something is different from something else is more than knowing how one thing is.
(Creates more pathways in the brain, you know. That’s a teaching thing.)
Here are some cool places I’ve found:
- NewsU: The “Cleaning Your Copy” course is a fun way to review. It has a pretty format, too. You have to register (for free).
- Newsroom101: This has 2,000 exercises based on the Associated Press Style. They’re funny, because every time you get one right, a little window congratulates you with a different message. It might ask for your username or email address. Either way, you don’t have to register, and they don’t send you email.
- Ten Tips with Exercises: Associated Press Style, again!