Punctuation habits of authors

Ernest Hemingway loves the period. Jane Austin loves the comma. Meanwhile Cormac McCarthy ignores everything but the comma, period, and question mark.

Adam Calhoun boErnestHemingwayiled eight of his favorite novels down to just the punctuation. The novels he chose were James Joyce’s Ulysses, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, and William Faulkner’s Absalom! Absalom!.

Calhoun then analyzed the works, visualizing the punctuation of these novels in a way that put their punctuation use in perspective.

For example, in one chart, Calhoun shows punctuation density, or how many words (on average) an author puts in a row before using a punctuation mark. Hemingway, who favored short, crisp sentences, uses punctuation more densely than Jane Austen, William Faulkner, or Charles Dickens.

Jane Austen  620

Calhoun also breaks down each novel by most-used punctuation mark. Commas and periods tend universally to be the most used marks, but some authors have a fondness for apostrophes (Mark Twain), exclamation points (Lewis Carroll), and semi-colons (William Faulkner).

You can view the charts on Medium.com

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