Grammar, Punctuation and the Danger of Global Changes in Academic Writing

Grammar, Punctuation and the Danger of Global Changes
I was recently reading a novel that uses an unfortunate and incorrect punctuation pattern throughout the entire text. Well, to be honest, it uses far more than one incorrect punctuation pattern, but I want to focus on the one here. The error occurs in the phrase ‘all but,’ and does so regardless of how those two words function in a sentence. Now, ‘all but’ is altogether overused in the book and not always in a manner that implies the author understands the construction, but the clincher in terms of confusion and irritation is that erroneous comma in the middle of every single ‘all but.’ It appears in constructions like ‘all but the kitchen sink,’ ‘all but the last one’ and ‘all but forgotten,’ as well as in situations where ‘but’ is in fact a conjunction and should actually be preceded by a comma.

Now, since a comma appears before every ‘but’ in the book without consideration for sentence structure and semantic concerns, at least as far as I have had the patience to observe, I am assuming that the ‘editing’ was done through the use of global changes. You may already be familiar with these. Microsoft Word’s ‘Replace All’ function is a perfect example. Simply type in what you want as a replacement for the text you already have, push the button and the deed is done. Many corrections can be made in this way, but special caution is required when using this function. The program will not distinguish, for instance, between uses of a word or piece of punctuation that are correct and ones that are not; between appearances of a textual element in the author’s own prose and their presence in quotations, titles and other parts of a paper that should not be changed; or indeed between ‘but’ as a conjunction in need of a preceding comma and ‘but’ in the phrase ‘all but’ with the unrelated meanings ‘except,’ ‘almost,’ ‘virtually’ and so on. Global changes can therefore introduce as many errors as they correct. In fact, it is often surprising just how many problems can arise because it can be quite difficult to envision all the contexts in which a particular word or piece of punctuation is used, even when you are the author and especially in a long and complex document. Careful thought and meticulous proofreading should therefore always be dedicated to global changes.

The author of the novel I was reading thanked her husband for editing her book, and I have to agree that family and friends can be an enormous help with comments and corrections. I suspect that in the current environment of indie publishing some of these close assistants are all but co-authors. This book, however, was in serious need of expert proofreading and editing – careful, informed, hands-on proofreading that catches and corrects those obvious errors in grammar and punctuation. Such errors slip into the writing of even the most seasoned authors at times, so the novel is certainly a reminder of how important it is to check everything thoroughly before sending a manuscript off for publication or hitting that ‘Publish’ button online. Of course, it is possible that the novelist and her husband simply did not know whether the odd constructions they created were correct or not, but even the most basic free online dictionary would have provided the necessary information. If there was no time for that, a qualified and conscientious proofreader or editor could have saved the author (and her editor) from all those nonsensical ‘all, buts,’ along with a host of other errors that taint the story, which, had it been written and edited with more care, would have been quite good indeed. Or at least, I think so. Unfortunately, though perhaps predictably, I never did finish the novel.

Why Our Editing and Proofreading Services?
At proofreading services we pride ourselves on the exceptionally dedicated team of academic and scientific professionals who provide our English editing and proofreading services. Our editors and proofreaders are highly educated native speakers of English who have undergone rigorous training in expert editing practices, and their fields of study and specialisation range so widely that we are able to help our clients improve and polish research manuscripts of all kinds for successful publication. Many members of our research paper editing and proofreading team focus on journal editing, manuscript editing, scientific manuscript editing, academic proofreading, academic editing, dissertation proofreading services, professional proofreading, thesis editing services and scientific proofreading, assisting authors with articles that will be submitted to scientific and academic journals by ensuring that the formatting and references in their manuscripts conform to the relevant guidelines with precision and by correcting grammar, punctuation, spelling and typing errors to enable the clear and accurate communication of original research that acquisitions editors expect in publishable papers.

Our scientific editing, medical editing, bioscience editing, life science editing, environmental science editing, pharmaceutical science editing, physical science editing, agricultural science editing, LaTeX paper editing, social science editing, political science editing, engineering paper editing, psychology editing, research paper editing, manuscript editing, humanities editing, journal article editing, biomedical science editing, planetary science editing, plant science editing, material science editing, veterinary science editing, behavioural science editing and neurosurgery editing services for authors of scientific papers and reports are especially popular, but we also excel at book editing and have the experience and expertise to proofread and edit books and papers of all kinds across every scholarly discipline. Some of our carefully trained editors and proofreaders work exclusively on PhD thesis editing, master’s dissertation proofreading, bachelor’s dissertation proofreading, thesis editing, dissertation editing, thesis proofreading and dissertation proofreading, applying their education and instructional skills in providing thesis editing and dissertation proofreading services that help advanced students to improve the formatting and language of their theses and dissertations and thereby increase their chances of degree success. Whether you are preparing a conference or class presentation, putting the final touches to a professional report for colleagues or tackling the challenging task of editing any kind of academic or scientific document for publication, a qualified member of our outstanding proofreading and editing team will be delighted to provide proofreading and editing services and boost your confidence in your written work.

If you are in the process of preparing an article for an academic or scientific journal, or planning one for the near future, you may well be interested in a new book, Guide to Journal Publication, which is available on our Tips and Advice on Publishing Research in Journals website.

We also offer the following services:

Journal Article Editing
Scientific Editing
Dissertation Editing
Manuscript Editing
Research Paper Editing
Book Editing
Report Editing
Grant Application Editing
Conference Paper Editing
Agricultural Science Editing
Bioscience Editing
Chemistry Paper Editing
Environmental Science Editing
LaTeX Paper Editing Services
Life Science Editing
Material Science Editing
Medical Editing Services
Pharmaceutical Science Editing
Physical Sciences Editing
Planetary Science Editing
Plant Science Editing
Sports Science Editing
Veterinary Science Editing
Social Sciences Editing Services
Anthropology Editing
Archaeology Editing
Behavioural Science Editing
Economics Editing
History Paper Editing
Management Studies Editing
Philosophy Editing
Political Science Editing
Psychology Editing
Sociology Editing
Humanities Editing
Engineering Paper Editing
Law Paper Editing
PhD Thesis Editing
Master’s Dissertation Editing
Bachelor’s Dissertation Editing
Thesis Editing Services
Dissertation Editing Services
Thesis Proofreading Services
Dissertation Proofreading Services
Proofreading Prices

topbanner errow