In composition mechanics refers to the appearance of words, to how they are spelled or arranged on paper. The fact that the first word of a paragraph is usually indented, for example, is a matter of mechanics. These sentences violate other rules of mechanics:
she dresses beautifully She dresses beautifuly.
Conventions of writing require that a sentence begin with a capital letter and end with full-stop punctuation (period, question mark, or exclamation point). Conventions of spelling require that beautifully have two Is.
The rules gathered under the heading of mechanics attempt to make writing consistent and clear. They may seem arbitrary, but they have evolved from centuries of experience. Generally they represent, if not the only way of solving a problem, an economic and efficient way.
Along with mechanics we include punctuation, a very complicated subject and by no means purely mechanical. While some punctuation is cut-and-dried, much of it falls into the province of usage or style. Later, in the chapter on punctuation, we'll discuss the distinctions between mechanical and stylistic uses of commas, dashes, and so on.
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