What Is a Prescriptivist Editor?

If you work with words, you’re probably familiar with the related but supposedly antithetical concepts known as prescriptivism and descriptivism. And people take sides. Either you’re a stickler (you’re a prescriptivist) or you go with the flow (you’re a descriptivist).

Commas between Compound Predicates

We learn from CMOS 6.23 that “a comma is not normally used to separate a two-part compound predicate joined by a coordinating conjunction.” In other words, when the subject isn’t repeated after a word like “and” or “but” in a compound sentence, a comma is usually omitted.

Quotation marks, with comma and period

Commas and Periods with Quotation Marks

According to The Chicago Manual of Style, commas and periods are almost always placed before a closing quotation mark, “like this,” rather than after, “like this”. This traditional style has persisted even though it’s no longer universally followed outside of the United States and isn’t entirely logical.

Formatting Thoughts in Fiction

There are a few simple conventions for presenting thoughts in fiction, and these overlap with the conventions for setting off dialogue and other quoted speech or text—or anything that might normally take quotation marks.

Sancho Panza and Don Quixote in the Mountains

One Space or Two?

It hasn’t reflected publishing standards since the Jazz Age. And it isn’t Chicago style. But some people continue to do it in their own documents—from manuscripts to emails. You’ll even see it occasionally on social media.

Semicolons in Fiction

Anyone who learned to type on a QWERTY keyboard would be excused for thinking the semicolon is the most important mark of punctuation in English; why else would it be sitting right there on the home row?