Discussion on Paid Editors


I’m not home right now to look up anything in Hart’s, but I do know Hart’s does not use the Oxford comma. So ironic because Hart’s is the Oxford style manual.


One major difference between BrE and AmE is where the comma goes in dialogue.

BrE = “Let’s go”, he said.
AmE = “Let’s go,” he said.

No matter what you follow, the point of using a style guide is to be consistent.


… this is a thing? Dear gods. I feel kind of bad now. Though isn’t BrE ‘Let’s go’,?


I’m American, so shrugs
I just remember the comma being in a different place between the two. Don’t know about double vs single quotes.


That’s not correct - I use British English (and British editors) and punctuation goes inside the speech marks, not outside.

I use double speech marks, not single. I use single for quotes. I believe some BE authors/publishers use a single speech mark and it seems more a stylistic difference than a hard and fast rule.


It seems that even within British and American, rules differ. I know for sure that in Dutch it’s single quotations. It was a bit of a shock to me when people pointed out it was wrong and that people use double. I also know a book (Hawk, if I’m correct, but I may be wrong) that states the author uses British English and this single quotation marks…


I think for some of these rules it’s simply a matter of being consistent. Adding an ‘s’ at the end of directionals is apparently British English, but it actually looks better to me.

For example:‘He walked towards the house’ - is more British
and ‘He walked toward the house’ - is more American

The rest of my writing is in American English, but I made a special point to tell my editors that I prefer directionals with ‘s’, and not to change them. Just to make sure I’m consistent. So far no reader has ever complained.


Whenever I read an article that’s obviously written by a Brit (e.g., has the “our” spelling (flavour) or the “s” instead of the “z”) I see the comma or period outside the quote.

And Grammar Girl, who’s my god when it comes to grammar, says: https://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/how-to-use-quotation-marks

The most common question people ask about quotation marks is whether periods and commas go inside or outside, and the answer depends on where your audience lives because in American English we always put periods and commas inside quotation marks, but in British English periods and commas can go inside or outside

Compositors―people who layout printed material with type―made the original rule that placed periods and commas inside quotation marks to protect the small metal pieces of type from breaking off the end of the sentence. The quotation marks protected the commas and periods. In the early 1900s, it appears that the Fowler brothers (who wrote a famous British style guide called The King’s English ) began lobbying to make the rules more about logic and less about the mechanics of typesetting. They won the British battle, but Americans didn’t adopt the change. That’s why we have different styles.


You’re talking about different things, I think. Grammar Girl is referring to quotation marks that are not speech marks - for example:

Do you like “Gangnam Style?”
Do you like “Gangnam Style”?

I don’t think she’s referring to quotation marks used as speech marks.

“I don’t like him,” she said
“I don’t like him”, she said

The second is clearly wrong. EDIT - or, even if some people in Britain wanted to do this, any book written this way would look 100% wrong to the vast majority of English speakers in the world, so I don’t think they do it at all. I’ve never seen it, and I read the Economist and pick up English language novels in Hong Kong all the time.


She’s referring to quotes, not speech marks, which is what I mentioned and see Alec’s examples.


Got it. I assumed they were one and the same.


Correct. Strictly speaking, the single quotes are BE but they are hard to read and the double quotes are becoming more and more established. I researched this once as I started off with single quotes and people were confused. Not sure if I have the stuff still but I believe it is media standard rather than Oxford Manual of Style. Don’t quote me on it (single or double). The bit with the comma outside the quotation is very old-fashioned, I learned to place my comma within the quote and there it stays.


It is AE. My poor editor had to take off all the ‘s’ . Consistency is key and that’s why people need style sheets


Right. But most likely no reader would have cared if you’d kept the s, so long as it was consistent. My natural instinct is to put an ‘s’ (and I think that’s the case for a lot of Americans), and for my first book my editor marked up the entire manuscript taking them out. So the next time I just told her - don’t worry, just make sure they all have the s.


I got told by somebody that “towards” is untoward. For me it feels odd. Like writing “I put my book on the table.” I will always write onto here.
Dinosaur instead of Gangnam Style…


Also, the editor you personally hire before querying can be overridden in matters like this. Unless you are an established NYT Bestseller author, the editor at the publishing house won’t be overriden in house style issues.


So was mine. Then I learned it’s not there in AmE so I would constantly edit them out. After so many times doing that, I now automatically leave it out. It’s also true for “forward” and “backward.”


Actually, when I was googling the differences between AmE and BrE for the comma placement, I came upon the Oxford dictionary website where they said BrE uses single quotes. Here’s the URL: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/punctuation/inverted-commas-quotation-marks


Single quotes are indeed the style standard. But - major British media don’t use them anymore. So, I took the liberty of not using them either. I think if you write exclusively for the British market, you need single quotes. With an international audience it just does not work and even I, after reading so many US produced books, find single quotes a tad weird.
I really must dig out that article I found when scratching my head over what to do. It basically said double quotes are okay these days. On Wattpad, single quotes are an absolute nono, but Wattpad is the least of my worries.


Here is an excerpt from New Hart’s Rules: The Oxford Style Guide, Second Edition by Anne Waddington.