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MB2000's books are written by practitioners and experts in their own fields and are edited and designed at our central offices in Kemble, Gloucestershire, UK. We do have a house style, but prefer to say that the books are the authors' books, with a bit of tweaking and tuning by us. Over the years, many authors have grumbled to us that other publishers tweak and tune to such an extent that the text becomes virtually unrecognisable as theirs. Poor show! We do like to make sure that the texts are in good English but the majority of the work has to be done by the authors. On which point - and I am sure our writers won't cavil too much about this - we have never had a book in yet where we have not had to adjust a bit of spelling, punctuation or grammar - never. It is something of a challenge we issue - that an author will submit a text that has absolutely no errors to correct. Still, that is one of the great delights of editing, that there are always little spelling errors, punctuation blips, grammatical faux pas and syntactical oddities to find and correct.
Management Books publishing information
Punctuation seems to be a mysterious world to some people. With a few minor changes to preserve copyright, we would like to share some thoughts with you on this vexing topic. A common dilemma for writers is whether or not to include commas. This indecision has caused me headaches on several occasions. For example, 'he exhibited the gadget he had made out of scrap on his manager's desk.' or 'The men who were left behind had to wait for the tide to turn.' This second one is more devious - how many men were left behind - all of them or just some of them? In the context, the example shown was correct although the original had two commas, one after 'men' and the other after 'behind'. Or this, 'The dog growled and ran up to the woman tugging at her raincoat'. Who, one asks, was the one doing the tugging, and who owned the raincoat?

Some writers exhibit a reckless abandon, sprinkling dots and dashes, commas and quote marks ad lib, while others seem too scared to use any at all. It is surprising what one little squiggle of ink can do to the meaning of words. 'Running over his friend Richard Jones laughed out loud'. This gives at least three comma-placing possibilities. And how about, 'They stood still lost in each other's arms'? Which side of 'still' should the comma be placed?

Similar problems occur with hyphens. Try the sense of these, 'Care should be taken with drinking water at sea.' 'He stormed into his world shattering illusions.' 'We decided to buy a second hand cart for the farm.' or 'SOCO found a clear cut finger print.' In fact, the sense of these sentences demanded three hyphens and one comma - drinking-water, second-hand and clear-cut, but not world-shattering, where a comma was needed. For this, a clearer construct would have been, 'Shattering illusions, he stormed into his world.'

One irksome development in English is the carelessness of many writers (and speakers) when using a singular noun (e.g. 'the patient') and a plural possessive pronoun (e.g. 'their'), as in 'Every patient is entitled to see their medical records.' Excessive 'his or her' use is poor, so we generally try to turn the noun into a plural to make the meaning clearer. 'All patients are entitled to see their medical records' - which in some ways is a better proposition anyway. Even the OED says that 'their' as a third person indefinite meaning 'his or her', is a disputed usage, and other 'authorities' say that such use is becoming acceptable. Don't like it! But, one still finds expressions such as, 'None of these arguments apply, do they?' or 'The caller did not leave their number', as heard whenever one of those extremely irritating automated phone calls is irritatingly, automatically cancelled. Enough!

We are always pleased to hear from you about other examples of deviant English.

Nicholas Dale-Harris, Publisher