View Full Version : Punctuation dejection

10-19-2004, 12:23 AM
I admit it, I'm a punctuation wienie. Do I need to get over it?

I got my galleys back from my publisher last week. The editing was atrocious. Commas outside quote marks, periods outside quote marks. Single quotes used in place of double quotes, while my correctly used double quotes were left as they were. Written-out numbers over one hundred hyphenated. Needless compound word constructions. And the final straw: An it's used where an its should have been.

Looking at the punctuation and grammar in forums and boards, let alone books and magazines, I realize that punctuation is not important to most people. But to me, it is, and I knew, based on reality, that getting an editor with her head out the window while she's driving along was a possibility. But having it happen makes me feel horrible. Dejected. Like why bother?

On the other hand, after my initial shock and horror and a good night's sleep, I'm ready to slog on with making the book better. I've cataloged all the corrections needed from the editing. (I thought maybe some of them were mine, but they weren't. If I'm wrong about something (and anything's possible), at least I'm consistent.) I can look on this as a chance to become a better person, work against adversity, make my genius known to someone far less fortunate. Maybe I should also work on being less sarcastic. But it's hard to be nice when mistakes from high school grammar and general math (the chapter on how to spell out the numbers when writing a check) are the things I have to teach the one in charge of getting my book to the publisher.

It's the publisher's editor, too, so that doesn't bode well.

And now I feel a little better.


aka eraser
10-19-2004, 12:49 AM
Who's the publisher?

I nearly wrote "whose" just for funsies. :)

10-19-2004, 12:56 AM
Bob, sorry to hear that. I am also a punctuation geek (I've had to literally type "IT'S SHOULD BE ITS!" in an e-mail to an editor THREE FROCKING TIMES!!!) and I've also had this happen, when I got the gallies for my novel. (It's very frustrating and it does NOT speak well of the company's editor!)

I know it's a major bum-out when this happens but it's a good thing you caught it and made the necessary corrections. Just be sure that they send you the newly-edited gallies so that you can double-check your corrections are there.

Good luck!


10-19-2004, 10:07 AM

10-25-2004, 09:27 PM
You would rather hope that punctuation *was* important to an editor!

10-26-2004, 12:41 AM
Where would those funny newspaper headlines be without that misplaced apostrophe or neglected comma?

10-26-2004, 03:21 AM
That's just disgusting. I know it's not the same, but an article of mine was recently published with a typo in it (not mine).

The business of an editor and of a copy editor is to ensure there are no mistakes - to correct those that are in the text. Not to miss errors and certainly not to add them!

10-26-2004, 08:19 PM
I was gonna say that, Steph. Is this the content editor, or the copy editor?

I am a copy editor. I fix all those stupid little things for some mags. I only mention things outside of grammar and spelling to the editor if something jumps out at me, like a sentence that makes no sense, or something like that.

I figure the content editor has been through it, and if she's happy, then I just fix the rest. I don't think content editors really concentrate on that stuff.
They should though.

11-30-2004, 09:59 AM
Sounds like the editor is from England.

12-02-2004, 09:14 AM
Just a question...and please don't laugh if i should know this, but what is the correct way to use inverted commas? When i'm quoting someone, should double inverted commas be used, or single. i've had my novel read by quite a few agents, authors and the like, and not one has commented on my use of them (i've used single inverted commas throughout the entire manuscript). Should they all be double or single. Not what is accepted, but what is correct.

12-06-2004, 03:48 AM
Is your editor the same nationality as you? It sounds like the issue may simply be a difference in American and English usage with regard to punctuation.

In the U.S., all punctuation marks go inside the quotes regardless of logic. In the U.K., punctuation is sometimes placed outside the quotation marks.

Americans often use double quotes where single quotes are required in British usage, and vice versa.

"Its," on the other hand, there is no excuse for.

I suppose you like Lynne Truss's little punctuation book?

(And now shall we debate whether it is Truss' or Truss's?)

12-06-2004, 03:53 AM

Americans almost always use double quotation marks. Single quotation marks (i.e. "inverted commas") are generally used only to enclose a quotation within a quotation.

The British generally do the reverse.

12-06-2004, 11:09 AM

I was a content editor for a newspaper only because I knew a good story when I saw one. I didn't have the brains to be a copy editor, who are Gods to me. Copy editing takes a quick eye, fast reflexes and an extraordinary knowledge of syntax and grammar. Copy editors are the mathematicians of the writing industry. It sounds as though a content editor attempted to red-line this manuscript. Content editors sometimes masquerade as copy editors, but alas, we are soon found out!

You'll notice that my user name was brainlessly misspelled. Thank the Almighty Creator that there are no vertebrate paleontologists in AW. I would have been found out long ago.

Triceratops (edited)

12-06-2004, 11:43 AM
Thanks Skylar

So both are correct, just different on different continents. Phew, i was starting to worry that I would have to go and change my entire 80,000 word ms. :eek :D

02-06-2005, 10:24 PM
Just imagine Shakespeare with his made up words,and virtually no punctuations,if he had not existed til now,and attempted to have something published they would laugh him out of their offices.

02-07-2005, 02:35 AM
Well, English grammar wasn't really invented until the 19th century, and a lot of the rules are based on Greek and Latin grammar rules, which is rather silly. But it IS easier to read work that is grammatically correct. The standards aren't completely arbitrary. And as grammar deteriorates in modern times, works grow harder and harder to understand. .

Euan Harvey
02-07-2005, 12:37 PM
English grammar wasn't really invented until the 19th century
So before this, there was no grammar? You could just say what you wanted? Like, I don't know, "First dog the saw I mutt was"?

And as grammar deteriorates in modern times, works grow harder and harder to understand. .
So this means Chaucer is easier to read than King then? ;)

02-07-2005, 07:17 PM
Lord knows I find Chaucer easier to read than King. But I'm a Middle English geek.

I thought of the British-vs-American thing too.

But as a former copyeditor (still would be if the company didn't have massive layoffs a few years ago>: ) I am compelled to ask: What style manual are they using? Chicago? AP? Something in-house? Thus, the quote-comma thing might be company policy.

You want frustration? I have a 13-year-old and a 9-year-old. I correct their English homework. They are SEVERELY punctuation-challenged.:\

I think times like that are whyt the slogan, "It's Miller Time" was invented. (And yes, that DOES take the apostrophe!):rollin

the Lily