You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on BostonGlobe.com. Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

Globe Insiders | To Grammar’s House

Making our mark

istock

Discussions about punctuation needn’t be dull affairs. Consider these breathtaking scenes:

When they arrived, Smith said he and Jones hid on a porch and began to make calls to the person they planned to rob.

(A perpetrator furnishes a play-by-play while carrying out a crime!)

As glass flew and the building’s vinyl siding began to pop off, Smith said people fleeing the building told them others were still inside.

(Smith gives an interview with chaos all around!)

In the future, Smith said the district may offer administrators further training on how to conduct teacher investigations and require additional tracking of complaints.

(Smith has a time machine! And so do we!)

And each of these unlikely scenes is headed for publication unless the copy editor makes a subtle change. For purposes of illustration, we will show it a little less subtly here:

Continue reading below

When they arrived, Smith said, he and Jones hid on a porch and began to make calls to the person they planned to rob.

As glass flew and the building’s vinyl siding began to pop off, Smith said, people fleeing the building told them others were still inside.

In the future, Smith said, the district may offer administrators further training on how to conduct teacher investigations and require additional tracking of complaints.

Continue reading it below

Yes, all it takes is a second comma. By setting off “Smith said” in each sentence, the copy editor lets the scene unfold seamlessly. When they arrived, they hid. As glass flew, people sounded a warning. In the future, things may change.

The copy editor keeps this indispensable punctuation mark at the ready. The standard size works fine.

Charles F. Mansbach is the Globe’s Page One editor.
Loading comments...
Subscriber Log In

You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Already a subscriber?
Your city. Your stories. Your Globe.
Yours FREE for two weeks.
Enjoy free unlimited access to Globe.com for the next two weeks.
Limited time only - No credit card required!
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.
Thanks & Welcome to Globe.com
You now have unlimited access for the next two weeks.
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.