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As writers, we have strong opinions about things like the Oxford comma, use of exclamation points, and whether punctuation belongs inside or outside quotation marks. Sure, it sounds like much ado about nothing, but—so sue us!—we’re passionate about the em dash. So, we asked our staff writers: 

What’s your favorite piece of punctuation, and why?

Michael Gural-Maiello

There’s nothing like an em dash, as it allows you to start into lists, tangents and other vulgarities that are really telling you that you’ve structured your sentence incorrectly—features that you can’t always wring out of a semicolon or full colon, and that a pair of normal dashes typed next to one another can barely approximate.

Eric Mochnacz

Is it weird to say the semi-colon makes me inexplicably horny?!


Also the ellipsis… I talk in clips and phrases… and it allows me to text like I talk… and I really like that… ya know?!

Devin Householder

I overuse the “squiggly dash” (~), which I just discovered is called a tilde.

Not sure what it was originally designed for, but I use it when I’m not confident in the precision of something I’m asserting.  Basically an “ish” prefixing an assertion. Like, I’ll assert this, but don’t hold me to it. Like, my house is HUGE! Maybe ~30K square feet….. but maybe not. With real estate, who can be sure?

Kevin Shea

I am a grown ass man!!!!! Why would I get attached to a character on a keyboard!!!! End your thoughts with a period and a space and move on!!!!!!!!!!

Heather Shaff

I’m gonna go old-school with the basic question mark. Questions are essential: If you stop asking questions of yourself and the world around you, you stagnate. You stop growing.

I also want to take a moment to recognize the lowly period, which could be in danger of extinction. Decried by Gen Z as being “too serious,” unfriendly, or even passive aggressive when used in texting, we could be seeing a lot less of this traditional standby as texting evolves into a default mode of modern communication.

Jay Heltzer

My name is Jay & I am an ampersand man. I love its name & I love how it looks & I admire its authoritative elegance. When you see it in the name of a business or institution, you’re automatically intimidated by its dominant presence: William & Mary, Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble. The exclusivity of its design is built on the fact that no one can create one by hand. It usually ends up like a jacked up treble clef, or something you just doodled on your notepad during a board meeting. Did you know that the ampersand was once considered to be the 27th letter of the alphabet? That is an underdog story I can get behind & you can too!

Josh Bard

I’m a big parenthesis guy. The hardworking pair allows you to include a tiny tangent or add an extra thought to a sentence (also to organically drive up your word count). Additionally, parenthesis can be helpful in adding a little detail that is little enough to be included in the main sentence (if you know you know). And on rare occasions, it can even be used to hide or downplay something bigger in the eyes of the writer. The best example of this (as all best examples do) comes from a Meatloaf song: “I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That).”

Mr. Joe Walker

My favorite piece of punctuation is… certainly a topic I never thought I’d write about. It feels more like an internal discussion I’d lose sleep over. Since I’m already awake and deprived, lost-in-thought me feels it’s the question mark.

Building a solid Q&A has been a guilty pleasure of mine since 1998. Having interviewed more celebrities and remarkable people than I can inventory, my goal has always been to encourage, educate, and entertain my participants and readers. I feel a set of calculated questions is an opportunity to create a unique shared experience through the answers they provoke.

Does that make me Edward Nygma? Maybe it does. Purple is my favorite color. I’m quite fond of green too. I also write a column titled “Good Question.”

Billy Bob Jr. Sr. Jr. Sr.

What’s your favorite piece of punctuation, and why??!!! That’s an odd question…

I guess the period.

It’s my favorite because it’s the one I use the most commonly. It was the first punctuation I learned about. I see it used a lot in books. It’s a calm way to end a sentence. It’s not mysterious or angry; you make a statement, end it calmly, and there you go.

Jillian Conochan

I love everybody in CC, but have you all lost your minds?! The interrobang, Western civ’s only piece of punctuation to not go out with a whimper.

Mikael Johnson

I have to piggy-back on the “period.” In this day of electronic correspondence, my overuse of emojis (especially while texting) turns the “period” into a valuable punctuation mark that helps best to convey tone.


“Hi, Mikael, would you mind staying late today, I need help with a project.”

“Sure :)”

Two days later

“Hi, Mikael, whatta ya know, need you to stay late again, are you available?”


Natalie Brandt

I’m a chronic abuser of the ellipses…

It conveys so much without saying anything at all. Like a typeset bid for connection, the ellipses hints at my need to keep our exchange going but leaves it up to you.

The Prompt Staff

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