The Odvod way of writing: the semicolon

The semicolon is one of the most misused and misunderstood pieces of punctuation in the English language. This confusion is one of the reasons why it’s slowly being phased out of the grammar toolbox. If not for the 😉 emoji, the semicolon might disappear altogether.

Unlike a comma (or a period), it links statements together that are closely related but are not part of the same subject in a sentence. It also cleans up those laundry lists of ideas, and helps organize the sentence for the reader — especially when there are one too many ands. Lynne Truss’ best selling book, Eats, Shoots & Leaves offers memorable advice:  “…it performs the duties of a kind of Special Policeman in the event of comma fights.”

An Odvod working example:
Logo changes include switching the black to grey and the canary yellow to gold; the typeface needs to be smaller, with less focus on the title case, and bolded; and the graphic needs to be at base-level and tilted at a 20-degree angle.

What doesn’t a semicolon do? Don’t use it to connect clauses and phrases.
For example:  “We admire our art director; the Photoshop wizard.”
Nope. Try again: “We admire our art director, the Photoshop wizard.”
Presto! Grammar magic.

Whenever in doubt Odvod relies on the CP Style Guide for answers:

  1. Use a semicolon to separate statements too closely related to stand as separate sentences.
  2. Use a semicolon to separate phrases that contain commas.
  3. Use a semicolon to precede explanatory phrases introduced by for example, namely, that is and the like when a comma seems too weak.
  4. Semicolons go outside quotation marks.

Grammar is as fickle as those who try to constantly correct it, but it serves an important purpose. It gives the writer a compass for what’s write 😉 and what’s wrong — more about spelling in future blog posts. Advertising writers are infamous for breaking the rules to create impact, but it takes an expert to know what rules are being broken and why. That’s why Odvod isn’t about breaking the rules, but trying to elevate the language of your company to breakout from the clutter.

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