Punctuation is the practice or system of using certain conventional marks or characters to make clear the meaning of written or printed language.
Punctuation marks are used to add emphasis, minimize ambiguity, and aid reader comprehension. They achieve this by separating groups of words, as well as conveying pauses and a feeling for changes in volume and pitch of the written or printed material.
The choice of punctuation to use may be clear-cut. In other instances, the writing may accommodate several different patterns of punctuation. Therefore, different writers may punctuate a writing differently because of their differing tastes and judgments.
Skilful phrasing necessitates less punctuation. Consequently, no overall punctuation pattern can be stipulated, except in broad terms. However, any punctuation style that is adopted, should be based on sentence structure and be consistent.
The overriding principle governing punctuation is that punctuation must clarify the text. It should help the reader to understand the writer's thoughts. If it does not, the punctuation should be omitted.
Details on the uses of specific punctuation marks are provided at: