With the winter holidays approaching, it’s important to recognize those among us most deserving of celebrations. Yes, that’s right, I’m talking about the copyeditors out there who keep our prose functional. Find here an exploration of exactly where the comma should go in the traditional English Christmas carol (dating back to at least 1760), “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”. Feel free to sing along and “discover how the commas shape the prose.”

David Crotty

David Crotty

David Crotty is a Senior Consultant at Clarke & Esposito, a boutique management consulting firm focused on strategic issues related to professional and academic publishing and information services. Previously, David was the Editorial Director, Journals Policy for Oxford University Press. He oversaw journal policy across OUP’s journals program, drove technological innovation, and served as an information officer. David acquired and managed a suite of research society-owned journals with OUP, and before that was the Executive Editor for Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, where he created and edited new science books and journals, along with serving as a journal Editor-in-Chief. He has served on the Board of Directors for the STM Association, the Society for Scholarly Publishing and CHOR, Inc., as well as The AAP-PSP Executive Council. David received his PhD in Genetics from Columbia University and did developmental neuroscience research at Caltech before moving from the bench to publishing.


11 Thoughts on "A Copyediting Carol"

This is wonderful! Have forwarded many times! Thanks! Katina Strauch

Absolutely loved this!! Now….will this make people think about punctuation – and spelling – and sentence structure and………..?

I fear not… not even the famous “the panda is a type of bear that eats shoots and leaves” makes people be more careful with punctuation… 😉

That is absolutely wonderful!

It does occur to me that I’m not sure it really covers *all* the comma possibilities: a comma after “rest” works too, if “God” is understood to here be an archaic way of spelling the word “good” — which makes the meaning just “sleep well, you happy guys.” So could we be bidding a fond goodnight to those partying Joes who are staying later than we ourselves chose? 🙂

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