The Serial Comma

Subject: The Serial Comma
From: Ken Banks <edits -at- hawaii -dot- rr -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Mon, 30 Jan 2006 18:01:24 -1000

If anyone is still interested, here is a real-world example from my current job.

"The best management practices may include typical mitigation measures such as using silt fences, protecting inlets and catch basins, appropriately stockpiling materials on site to prevent runoff and building over, and establishing landscaping as early as possible on disturbed soils . . ." [Yes, there's more.] This writing is grotesque; please don't write to tell me about the other problems with it. Some of them I will fix, others I will not. If I made this document read like [pick an example of good writing and editing], I would be exceeding my authority.

There should be a comma after "runoff." We're not appropriately stockpiling materials on site to prevent "building over," which is how it reads. And the comma after "building over" should be deleted, because building over and establishing landscaping go together as ways to minimize erosion. Building over means constructing buildings.

What is to be gained by not using it?

The Editorial Outsource
767 Waianuenue Avenue
Hilo, Hawaii 96720
Office: (808) 934-7363
Cell: (808) 896-8616
edits -at- hawaii -dot- rr -dot- com


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