Lana, one of our readers, pointed me to a very interesting article over the NY Times. Titled Celebrating the Semicolon in a Most Unlikely Location, the article describes how the reporter was pleasantly surprised by finding an erudite and correct use of the semicolon on a subway sign.
“Please put it in a trash can,” riders are reminded. After which Neil Neches, an erudite writer in the transit agency’s marketing and service information department, inserted a semicolon. The rest of the sentence reads, “that’s good news for everyone.”
Semicolon sightings in the city are unusual, period, much less in exhortations drafted by committees of civil servants. In literature and journalism, not to mention in advertising, the semicolon has been largely jettisoned as a pretentious anachronism.
The article argues that most people avoid using the semicolon merely because they are not sure about it.
We covered it in the past, specifically outlining the differences between the colon and the semicolon.
If you need a reminder, the article itself describes how it should be used:
Americans, in particular, prefer shorter sentences without, as style books advise, that distinct division (the semicolon) between statements that are closely related but require a separation more prolonged than a conjunction and more emphatic than a comma.