OK, I promise that I am working on blog posts with more words in them. I’m actually working on a two- or three-part series about book publishing, but that’s taking a while in between editing things. They’ll be awesome when I do complete them, though!

Moving on. I love funnies (cartoons, puns, pictures, etc.) about grammar, writing, editing, and all that good stuff. Sure, some may be groaners (or just lame, according to many), but if they’re about my passions, I’m likely to love them. Makes sense, right? So today, I want to pass some on to you in case you feel the same way. Here are just a few that I really like. If you have some great finds of your own, please share!

Editor Amy

Ex and q marks--EditorAmy



Errors We All Make

In any career field, there are notable greats. In editing, one of the better-known copyeditors is Bill Walsh, who edits for the Washington Post and has also written a few funny yet helpful books about language, writing, and editing. The man knows his stuff, and he even takes time to answer questions from the public when they struggle with writing scenarios or need a second pair of eyes (professional in his case) to look over tricky sentences. He recently came up with a list of twenty common errors that experienced and inexperienced writers routinely make:

One instance that probably doesn’t get a lot of thought (but should) is saying something that includes the words “one of those,” which is the first item on Bill’s list. Look at this example and see if you can identify the correct verb: “Nikki is one of those people who drive/drives too fast.” I bet most people would choose “drives” because it links with “Nikki,” which is who we’re talking about, right? Nikki drives fast. That makes sense, after all. Technically, though, “drive” is the correct choice. The sentence is actually saying that Nikki is a member of a group of people who drive too fast (people drive). Bill reworded his example to make more sense, and it applies to mine as well. You could say “You know those people who drive too fast? Nikki is one of them.” I don’t care for the way the original version sounds, using the correct “drive,” so I’m likely to reword sentences like that to avoid the “one of those” phrase all together. This is definitely a common problem.

One thing I totally disagree with Bill about is number nineteen on his list: “The serial comma is done” (as in dead). (The serial comma is the comma before “and” in a series: “red, white, and blue” instead of “red, white and blue.”) Here’s why he considers it dead: He edits for a newspaper, and newspaper workers use the Associated Press Stylebook as their guide. Most other types of publications in America refer to books like the Chicago Manual of Style (my favorite), and the serial comma is absolutely called for. I’m surprised Bill actually made such a blanket statement when I know he’s aware that other style/reference books use the serial comma. My strong preference is for the serial comma, but I still tell people it’s a style choice and that consistency is important either way. When I edit books, I always ensure the serial comma is applied since most (if not all) American publishing companies require it. Plus, using it prevents a lot of cases of confusion/ambiguity, which is crucial in writing.

Check out the rest of the list for yourself. Are there any items you have questions about or disagree with? Any shared pet peeves? Let me know!

Editor Amy

National Grammar Day: Hooray!

Grammar Day That’s right–today is National Grammar Day! There’s even a National Punctuation Day (Sept. 24). If you feel up to a challenge or just like setting goals for yourself, why not take some time today to iron out something related to writing that’s always given you trouble (or that you’re just curious about). Not positive how to use a semicolon? Want to learn what a serial comma is and why you should use it? There’s plenty of help available for you. Here’s one great resource: Also, you can always ask me. Leave a comment here, email me through my Contact Me page, or post a question on my Facebook page ( I’m happy to help.

Editor Amy

What I See When I Read Anything: An Editor Explained

Minor confession: Like many people, I check Facebook soon after I wake up. The little red notification indicator lures me with the hope that someone has left an interesting comment on one of my statuses or liked at least one of the many pictures of my dogs. Today is no exception. So, because of my Facebook curiosity, I’ve started my job (independent editor) before I’ve even changed out of my pajamas or had breakfast. (No one is paying me for this one, mind you.) But, there it is in my news feed: Someone wrote “I just love this kitten Apollo he lives in the multipurpose room, we adopted him.” I cannot ignore it—not on my life. No matter how groggy I may be, the part of my brain that drives my editing has snapped to life. As soon as I see the first error in that status and keep reading, my brain fanatically starts adding punctuation and changing words, rewriting the status as each new word registers. Now the corrected status reads: “I just love this kitten, Apollo, who lives in the multipurpose room. We adopted him.” Relief. Even though the real status will live on filled with errors, I have improved it, even if it never leaves my head.

Apparently it can be daunting being friends with an editor; multiple people have told me they’re afraid to write anything, for fear that I’ll tear apart their words. I can truthfully say that I have never done that. (It’s called tact!) So, I correct everything in my head—with my invisible pen on the invisible paper that will never become tangible to see the light of day. That’s just one status on one website. The day has barely started. I decide to turn on the morning TV news while getting ready, knowing it’s inevitable that I will hear reporters use words incorrectly and will see bulleted graphics on the screen with capitalization gone wild (“If a Passenger is in Distress, notify a Crew member immediately”). (Editor, editor, anywhere?)

Oh, and I bought this new face mask online, so I have to read the directions on the bottle’s label to know how long to leave it on. “Apply to dry Face, leave on face untill cracks appear.” Oh, no. Well, that just won’t do. Why in the world has someone determined that “face” is important enough to be a proper noun? (Hence the capitalization, which is only applied to one of the mentions of “face,” BTW.) Also, there’s an ugly comma splice staring at me as though it just doesn’t care. Don’t bring in a measly comma to do a period’s work! While we’re at it: Was there no spell check available at any point during this label’s life? Who dropped the ball and misspelled “until”? Finally, don’t even get me started on the ambiguity! “Untill” cracks appear in what? My face? I hope the writer means the mask, but I’m not so confident with that person’s competence so far! How hard is it to write “Apply the product to a dry face. Leave it on until cracks appear in the mask”? At least it’s filed away in my invisible, mental filing cabinet. Crisis rectified! I feel better. Still, maybe I should hold off on the mask and check the reviews again to see if anyone got any weird results thanks to the rest of the instructions.

Now, all that exasperation and mental turmoil happened much faster in person than it took to explain, but it was no less intense. (And no, there’s no off switch; I can’t unsee errors.) At last, after a few more steps that don’t involve reading, my morning routine is complete, and I’m ready for the real work. Come at me, you filthy, pathetic wannabe sentences! I. Will. RUIN YOU! Ahem. I mean . . . This is your friendly, peaceful Texas editor signing off and saying have a nice day.

Editor Amy