Let’s celebrate!

! by mag3737.Well, here it is, one of my favorite days of the year: National Punctuation Day (NPD).

Now in its sixth year, NPD has a mission to cure the “epidemic of poor punctuation in the United States,” according to founder Jeff Rubin.

How can you observe NPD?

Go around town and point out all the incorrectly punctuated signs you can find—but please don’t vandalize!

Enter the NPD baking contest; whip up a pastry or bread in the shape of a punctuation mark and win a prize.

Write a blog post including as many punctuation marks as possible (like I did here [did you notice?]).

Brush up on the proper use of punctuation:

Creative blitz

CreateAthonLast night, Kim and I participated in our second straight CreateAthon—and we had a great time doing so!

What is CreateAthon, you ask? It’s a 24-hour creative blitz during which advertising agencies and design firms around the country work on a pro bono basis for nonprofit organizations. The event was hosted locally by smith&jones, a full-service marketing and advertising agency in Sturbridge, Mass.

We at SmithWriting donated our copywriting services to the cause, drafting a brochure, poster, and ad for an organization that provides free resources to first-time parents under the age of 20. Needless to say, our few hours of volunteering were productive and deeply satisfying (and all the yummy food didn’t hurt!).

Best of luck to the crew at smith&jones, now entering their 21st consecutive hour of creative designing (and probably pouring their 21st cup of coffee!). We know that your eight lucky clients will be thrilled with their new marketing materials!

For more info about CreateAthon—and real-time updates—tune into smith&jones’ blog.

Breaking the rules

Just got my new edition AP Stylebook by Lee Bennett.OK, I admit it: Sometimes I break the rules—grammar rules, that is.

You may find this hard to believe (coming from a self-proclaimed grammar guru), but, in some cases, I think that disobeying certain rules results in better copy.

Here are some common grammar regulations and my thoughts on when it’s acceptable to defy them:

Always use complete sentences.

Pshaw. In my writing, I’ll sometimes use sentence fragments, because I believe they add emphasis:

My dog enjoys naps, walks, and treats. Lots and lots of treats.

No, the latter sentence is not grammatically correct, but it certainly lets the reader know how much my dog likes treats, doesn’t it?

Never begin a sentence with a conjunction.

And why not? I find that beginning a sentence with and, but, as, or because lends a tone of informality to my copy—something I strive for when writing for a young adult audience, for instance:

In our program, you’ll work harder than you ever have in school. But you’ll have a blast doing it.

Never end a sentence with a preposition.

Where did you pick that up from? At times, ending a sentence with a preposition (e.g., by, for, on) is much less awkward than the alternative. For example:

Where are you from? sounds much more natural than From where (whence?) are you? (unless, of course, you’re at a Renaissance Fair).

What are some grammar rules that you’ve been known to break?