We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is the Punctuation Pyramid?

By Sandi Johnson
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The punctuation pyramid is both a concept and a manipulative used in Big Writing, a teaching method developed in the United Kingdom by Ros Wilson over a period of three years. Schools in the United Kingdom and other European countries use Big Writing and, subsequently, the punctuation pyramid to improve the writing abilities of elementary or primary school students. As a manipulative, or an object that is used to help instruct a student, the pyramid is a desktop diagram with multicolored bands indicating a set of punctuation marks. In theory, as a child develops advanced writing skills, he or she is able to move down the pyramid using progressively more complex punctuation.

Big Writing writing focuses on four major areas with regard to increasing students' writing abilities. These areas include vocabulary, connectives, openers, and punctuation, as indicated by the acronym VCOP. With VCOP as a basis, the punctuation pyramid is the primary tool for teaching punctuation to students aged five to 11. Each colored band builds on the previous band, incorporating punctuation the student has already learned with new punctuation marks for the student to master.

In terms of concept, the punctuation period challenges students to monitor progress and seek out more challenging punctuation for writing exercises. Progressing downward through the levels of punctuation, each subsequent level indicates more sophisticated punctuation to further challenge the students' skills. First level punctuation, according to the punctuation pyramid, features only a period. Bottom level punctuation features commas, semicolons, apostrophes, and other punctuation marks. Used in conjunction with writing and speaking lessons, the punctuation pyramid seeks to call a students' attention to his or her own writing, including the use of punctuation.

Internalizing is a primary component of Big Writing. Students are expected to read and analyze the writing of others. Using the punctuation pyramid, students are encouraged to analyze the use of punctuation in what others write. According to Big Writing theories, the more a student can recognize and understand the use of punctuation in what he or she reads, the more likely he or she will use correct punctuation in personal writing. A physical manipulative of the punctuation period is used during writing exercises to further help a student visualize where his or her writing falls in terms of complexity.

The use of Big Writing and the punctuation pyramid is not widespread throughout the United Kingdom or Europe. The idea behind the concept, as well as specific teaching methodologies, was not developed until the beginning of the 21st century. Case studies involving schools in the UK and English-speaking schools overseas have helped to popularize its use based on positive results reported by both students and teachers.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.