[LMB] late-series copy-editing/copyediting/copy editing,

John Lennard john.c.lennard at gmail.com
Thu Sep 17 01:42:08 BST 2015

On Wed, September 16, 2015 11:05 am, John Lennard wrote:
> As to the rest, consistency, yes, but where that's orthography (including
>  hyphenation) well, hello global search-and-replace.

Tony: Powerful tools have dangers...

<snip amusing story>

John: Oh yeah. But the judicious use of spaces helps : you don't want, say,
to order a global S&R of *man* with *men*, because that'll give you
*immenence*, *romence*, and *demend*, but you can do it for * man * and *
men * much more securely. There are also the multiple forms to be
considered, because despite that a global Tom > Fred won't necessarily
ensure a global Tom's > Fred's. But when it comes to replacing *half
brother* and *halfbrother* with *half-brother* there really shouldn't be a

Besides, if in doubt, use 'find next' and do it one-by-one -- a dull hour
or two, sure, but that's a whopping improvement on a dull day or three, and
more consistent to boot.

Pete:  As I was learnt, a three dot ellipse signifies a sentence has not
ended.  A four dot, ellipse signifies what is missing are additional
sentences, but the current sentence has ended. . .

John: Yup -- but that is NOT a four-dot ellipsis, it's a full stop + an
ellipsis, and should be spaced as such. So there's:

blah blah blah ...


blah blah blah. ... blah blah

but not, properly, ever,

blah blah blah .... blah blah

unless you're Harold Pinter or Samuel Beckett, and in any case, the latter
example can only arise in quotation, where it ought in any case to be

'blah blah blah. [...] blah blah'

Point is, as I once told Lois (when asked), that an ellipsis indicates
incompletion, a full stop (= period, in USian) completion, so the two
cannot logically be combined as '....' or '... .'.

All of which said, I'll deposit another feline among avians (or not) by
reminding everyone that punctuation is *not* governed by rules but by
evolving and overlapping sets of conventions. No mark or space of
punctuation has an absolute meaning or a single form, and the meanings of
marks or spaces can only be inferred from the complete set of such present
in a given text. If I choose£ consistently£ to substitute a variant mark
for the usual form of the comma, commonly $,$ though sometimes $/$£
depending on date and locus of composition£ readers will pick it up swiftly
enough% The question is£ whether the effort is worth their while£ and if I
wish to do something so off-putting and idiosyncratic£ then it's up to me
to ensure they do in fact find it so%

You see?

(I have been known to wing it, and even to err, on some topics, but
punctuation -really- isn't one of them. It's my first academic hat.)

John Lennard, MA DPhil. (Oxon.), MA (WU)

General editor, Humanities-E-Books Genre Fiction Sightlines and Monographs

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