From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Punctuation is everything in written language other than the actual letters or numbers, including punctuation marks (listed at right), inter-word spaces and indentation.
Punctuation marks are symbols that correspond to neither phonemes (sounds) of a language nor to lexemes (words and phrases), but which serve to indicate the structure and organization of writing, as well as intonation and pauses to be observed when reading it aloud. See orthography.
In English, punctuation is vital to disambiguate the meaning of sentences. For example, "woman, without her man, is nothing," and "woman: without her, man is nothing," have greatly different meanings, as do "eats shoots and leaves" and "eats, shoots and leaves."
The rules of punctuation vary with language, location, register and time, and are constantly evolving. Certain aspects of punctuation are stylistic and are thus the author's (or editor's) choice. Tachygraphic language forms, such as those used in online chat and text messages, may have wildly different rules.
- James while John had had had had had had had had had had had a better effect on the teacher, a word puzzle in which proper punctuation must be added to give the sentence meaning
- Obelism, the practice of annotating manuscripts with marks set in the margins
- Scribal abbreviations, abbreviations used by ancient and medieval scribes writing in Latin
- Terminal punctuation
- Tironian notes, a system of shorthand consisted of about 4,000 signs
- Unicode symbols, characters of symbols that have a well-defined place in plain text, in computing