U.S. Book Editor

As a U.S. book editor, I work with authors in North America and other countries as well. Often international authors find me through my website and the affiliations I’ve joined.

This blog post, however, isn’t necessarily written to plug my services. My clients include authors in Canada, Australia and Europe who enjoy news from the BBC. Therefore, I thought I’d share a few BBC-inspired stories involving punctuation and grammar.

A BBC Story You Might Enjoy

American book editor
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As a U.S. book editor, I stumbled across a Pocket Worthy story from BBC Worklife that involves the importance of commas in business transactions. Perhaps you’ll enjoy the story, as partially quoted below:

In 2018, a dairy company in the US city of Portland, Maine settled a court case for $5m because of a missing comma.

Three lorry drivers for Oakhurst Dairy claimed that they were owed years of unpaid overtime wages, all because of the way commas were used in legislation governing overtime payments.

The state’s laws declared that overtime wasn’t due for workers involved in “the canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipment or distribution of: 1) agricultural produce; 2) meat and fish products; and 3) perishable foods”.

The drivers managed to successfully argue that because there was no comma after “shipment” and before “or distribution”, they were owed overtime pay. If a comma had been there, the law would have explicitly ruled out those who distribute perishable foods.

Read the full story here: The Commas That Cost Companies Millions

More Fascinating BBC Stories from a U.S. Book Editor Angle

Another story, this time in BBC Culture, explores “the mysterious origins of punctuation.” Interestingly, it attests to the role of Christianity in sparking a resurgence of punctuation. I found this fascinating because so many of my author clients write about Christian topics, whether novels or nonfiction.

Writing comes of age

It was the rise of a quite different kind of cult that resuscitated Aristophanes’ foray into punctuation. As the Roman Empire crumbled in the 4th and 5th Centuries, Rome’s pagans found themselves fighting a losing battle against a new religion called Christianity. Whereas pagans had always passed along their traditions and culture by word of mouth, Christians preferred to write down their psalms and gospels to better spread the word of God. Books became an integral part of the Christian identity, acquiring decorative letters and paragraph marks (Γ, ¢, 7, ¶ and others), and many were lavishly illustrated with gold leaf and intricate paintings.

Read the full story here: The Mysterious Origins of Punctuation, BBC Culture

I’m Here to Help

I appreciate you reading this blog post, and I’ll be sure to post other grammar and punctuation-related stories in the future. Feel free to contact me at melanie@melaniesaxtonmedia.com if you need help with your writing project. I love collaborating with authors and specialize in writing and editing in their specific voices.