Composition and Rhetoric
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Community College / Lower Division, College / Upper Division
Ohio Open Ed Collaborative
  • Punctuation
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    Punctuation: Course Map & Recommended Resources


    How to Use This Guide

    This document is intended to highlight resources available to address the resource goal of Punctuation in a First-Year Writing Course.  All resources are Open Access and can be downloaded or added to a Course Management System via hyperlink.

    Course Map

    Application of the following resources addresses the learning objectives above. Many of the resources have complete chapters that apply to these Punctuation objectives as a whole, with examples as expected in a typical handbook covering punctuation. The exercises and lessons can be used to demonstrate the application of these terms in single-sentence exercises, or in actual student writing.


        Introduction & Learning Objectives


        This description is intended to apply to a range of First-Year Writing courses, from highly conceptual to more traditional presentations, in regards to punctuation. It will cover definitions of the most common punctuation terms, examples of proper usage, and exercises that demonstrate proper usage. These descriptions and exercises can be incorporated regardless of the types of readings chosen for the course, the genres a course may focus on, etc. This guide is intended to work as a handbook on general punctuation rules and usage.

        Learning Objectives

        This module is designed to address the following learning objectives:

        1. Explain and illustrate common comma errors
        2. Illustrate comma usage with conjunctions
          1. Coordinating conjunctions
          2. Conjunctive adverbs
          3. Subordinating conjunctions
        3. Illustrate comma usage with clauses
          1. Relative clauses
          2. Dependent and Independent clauses
        4. Explain and illustrate use of apostrophes
        5. Explain and illustrate use of semicolons
        6. Explain and illustrate use of colons
        7. Explain and illustrate use of quotations
        8. Explain and illustrate use of hyphens
        9. Explain and illustrate use of parentheses
        10. Explain and illustrate use of dashes

        Recommended Resources

        About Writing: A Guide by Robin Jeffrey 

        • This is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted. This adopted edition is produced by Open Oregon Educational Resources. About Writing: A Guide is a text that provides basic instruction for clauses.  

        Writing in College: From Competence to Excellence by Amy Guptill

        • This is an Open SUNY Textbook. Open SUNY Textbooks is an open access textbook publishing initiative established by the State University of New York libraries and supported by SUNY Innovative Instruction Technology Grants. Writing in College: From Competence to Excellence has in Chapter 9 (“Getting the Mechanics Right”) a section called “Elements of punctuation and language you must master” covering colons, quotations, and proper comma usage when using coordinating conjunctions, dependent and independent clauses. They are presented in forms of actual paragraph writing and random sentence examples.

        Writing for Success

        • This is adapted from a work produced by a publisher who has requested that the original author not receive attribution. This adapted edition is produced by the University of Minnesota Libraries Publishing through the eLearning Support Initiative. Writing for Success is a text that provides instruction for all aspects of punctuation in a cohesive chapter (Chapter 3). Each section of Chapter 3 starts with the learning objectives for that section – starting with commas. Then it covers the remaining Punctuation terms and their usage, with each chapter section providing integrated examples and exercises that apply directly to the term discussed. The chapter covers much of what a general handbook on punctuation would contain.

        Supplemental Content

        Purdue OWL

        Apostrophe Exercises

        • This link has several apostrophe specific worksheets to use.

        Punctuation Overview                                            

        • This link provides sections on punctuation, commas, hyphens, apostrophes, and quotation marks, with many worksheets and examples to use.

        Comma Exercises

        • This link has comma specific worksheets.

        Punctuation Exercises

        • This OWL link has many basic punctuation exercises and examples to use for practice work.

        Class Activities

        There is a basic range of class activities from these open resources. Most of the resources have a section of explanation followed by complementary exercises for students to apply what they learn.

        1. About Writing: A Guide is a very brief and elementary section, which can provide a starting point for a class discussion. If you have a more advanced class, reviewing each term may be a good refresher to the elements of punctuation (Learning Objective 1).

        2. Writing in College: From Competence to Excellence is comprehensive and more advanced. Chapter 9 is a nice overview to use for a class discussion and for exercises students can work on individually or in groups. It has examples of incorrect usage regarding fragments and run-on sentences with explanations on how to avoid them with proper punctuation. There is also a list of key punctuation rules for students to keep in mind and that the instructor could refer to when grading papers. (Learning Objectives 1, 2, 3, 6, and 7).

        3. Writing For Success has a comprehensive and advanced chapter, Chapter 3, and can be used as a teaching overview.  It is followed by many exercises and examples to apply what was learned. Provides a handbook type Table of Contents that can be downloaded into a Learning Management System (all Learning Objectives).

        4. Purdue OWL is a comprehensive set of links which briefly notes the key elements of punctuation, but more readily provides several worksheet exercises that can be applied either individually to students or in groups. Direct links to each type of punctuation makes for easy application into a Learning Management System or for a class discussion. Worksheets can be used as quizzes (all Learning Objectives).


        Assessments provided are worksheets with practice and review for each punctuation type listed, or presentation materials with definitions, suggestions, and examples for proper punctuation usage. Most of the worksheets do not provide answer keys.  

        1. Writing in College: From Competence to Excellence: Chapter 9: “Getting the Mechanics Right,” section “Elements of punctuation and language you must master”  (hyperlink provided in ‘Recommended Textbooks’ above) has straight-forward definitions and suggestions for proper punctuation usage of many types.  This is an effective overall presentation of the basic punctuation mistakes and how to avoid them. This section also has information on proper grammar that can be used in conjunction with punctuation. The exercises are provided within the chapter information and can be copied separately (Learning Objectives 1, 2a, 3, 6, and 7).

        2. Writing for Success: Chapter 3 includes exercises with clauses and conjunctions.  There are some short paragraph examples for students to correct punctuation. The exercises are available via hyperlink or can be copied for a class activity (Learning Objectives 1, 2, 3, and 5).

        3. Writing for Success: Chapter 3 also provides exercises on dashes, apostrophes, colons, parentheses, and hyphens. After each section, exercises are provided covering the specific punctuation discussed. There is also an overall review exercise at the end of the chapter. These exercises can be copied or linked to use as a class activity (Learning Objectives 4, 8, 9, and 10).

        4. Purdue OWL includes worksheet exercises covering all of the objectives as noted in the “Supplemental Content” section of this guide. These worksheets can be copied or hyper-linked to use for a class activity (Learning Objectives 1 through 10).