The Punctuation Test


A couple of months ago, I told you about the games we play in our home. Everything from Scrabble to Monopoly. And I mentioned that word games are a special favorite.

For this month’s interview with Kathy Ide, I’m going to take game-playing to another level. Kathy is an expert in grammar and punctuation, and those are areas I’m a little weak in. So we’re going to have a fun test to see if you can spot errors in my sentences. After all, we’re readers and most of us are writers, so we should be able to pick out the mistakes in no time at all. Right?

Take a look at the sentences below and decide where the errors are.

The Punc Test

  1. I think its a shame that Mrs. Fletcher’s Fabulous Chicken Restaurant closed.
  2. Frank ate the hamburger, and went to the park.
  3. I’ve seen the best movies, including: Casablanca, Forrest Gump, and Schindler’s List.
  4. Donna told me that “there is nothing like fried ice cream.”
  5. Is this theme-park a dog friendly place?

You can check your answers here.

How did you do?

If you missed three or more, you might want to brush up on your grammar and punctuation. Kathy Ide’s Editing Secrets of Best-Selling Authors would be an excellent place to start!

If you only missed one or two, you’re doing well, but you probably need an editor to check your work before you publish. You can find excellent ones at

If you got them all right, you may be ready to become an editor or proofreader yourself! Check out Kathy’s Christian Editor Network at!

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   I am delighted to welcome Kathy Ide back to the Craft of Writing Blog Series. Along with her numerous activities in writing, editing, and mentoring, Kathy is owner of the Christian Editor Network, the parent company of four divisions for aspiring and established freelance editors and proofreaders. In addition to her latest book, Editing Secrets of Best-Selling Authors, Kathy has written Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors and the Capitalization Dictionary. She is also the compiler and editor of a four-book series of Fiction Lover’s Devotional books, including 21 Days of Grace21 Days of Love, 21 Days of Joy, and 21 Days of Christmas.

* * *

Welcome back, Kathy, and thank you for joining us!

It’s been a little over a year since you were here last. What have you been doing in the interval?

Still doing a lot of editing for authors, which I love. The SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference went virtual this year, which was a blessing to many people who couldn’t have attended in person.

The Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, which I’ve directed the last four years, was cancelled due to COVID-19. The conference center has been hit so hard by the pandemic, I was laid off (along with 90% of the MH employees), and the ministry leaders decided not to sponsor the writers conference anymore. I’m praying they will recover from this terrible situation, and if they do, I’m eager to see what God does there.

In the meantime, I’m enjoying more time with my family now that my conferences, travel, and visiting relatives are off my calendar due to the virus.

What made you want to become an editor?

When I lost my day job in an office, my husband suggested it might be a good opportunity for me to do something different with my career. He asked what I’d choose if I could do anything for a living, and I immediately said, “Write!” But I knew I couldn’t earn a living with my writing at that point. He asked what my second choice would be, and I said, “My critique group likes what I do for them, and I love doing it.” He suggested I see if I could make a career out of that. I asked my workers’ comp coordinator about it, but she said that since I didn’t have a college degree, it was “impossible.” When I heard that word, I heard God say, “Impossible is my specialty,” and I knew it was a direction He wanted me to pursue.

It was one of the best decisions I ever made. While I love writing, helping others improve their writing is an absolute delight for me.

Why did you decide to write Editing Secrets of Best-Selling Authors?

In my work with authors, as well as attending and teaching at writers’ conferences across the country, I developed several flyers on various aspects of editing. Most were based on advice I’d picked up from best-selling authors I’d met and learned from over the years. Putting those flyers together into a book, weaving in direct quotes from my multi-published author friends, just made sense.

When Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors was published, it was intended to be the first in a series. Editing Secrets seemed like the logical second book.

This has been a strange year because of the Covid-19 pandemic. How has that affected your work?

With the cancellation of the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference and the in-person SoCal conference, as well as other travel and out-of-state relatives visiting, I am no longer behind on any deadlines! It’s an odd feeling, but I have to say, quite satisfying.

Some of my editing clients are using the extra time to get lots of writing done, so they’re keeping me busy. Other clients are finding it difficult to concentrate on their writing with all that’s going on, so their slots on my calendar have been moved. So it all works out for everyone.

Many of the people who visit this blog are new authors. What one piece of advice would you give to them?

Only one? J Let’s see … I think the most important would be to trust God’s calling and his timing. Many new writers get so excited about what God has put on their hearts to write that they tend to rush the process. They set self-imposed deadlines for when they want their books published before they realize all that’s involved and how long those steps can take. God called you at exactly the right moment for you to learn how to write well, make connections with other writers who can help you hone your craft, work with a professional editor to polish your manuscript, and then follow whatever path he has chosen for publication of that book. He knew at the start how long that process would take. He also knew precisely the right time for your book to be published so it would get into the hands of the people he knew would need to read it. So relax, take your time, do it right, and enjoy the ride.

Other than your own books, what book on the craft of writing would you recommend to our readers?

There are many, and I’d be hard pressed to recommend one craft book above all the others, so I’ll go with The Chicago Manual of Style. It’s not so much on the craft of writing itself, but once you’ve read many craft books and implemented their techniques into your manuscript, it’s important that you do that final polish and make sure your punctuation, usage, grammar, and spelling are according to the book industry’s standard guidelines. Because if you have a lot of errors in your manuscript, publishers (and readers) will be so distracted by them they’ll have a hard time getting into your story or your message.

The publishing world seems to be changing daily. What do you see in store for us in the future? What advice would you give to authors to navigate this labyrinth?

That is so true, Kay! My best advice for keeping up with changes in the publishing world is to attend writers’ conferences. COVID-19 has forced several to cancel, but some have gone online … and we’ll be able to have in-person events again at some point. Conferences that have active literary agents and acquisitions editors on faculty will give you the opportunity to find out from them what’s going on in the industry.

Where can we find out more about you and your work?

Thank you, Kathy, for sharing your expertise with us!

Thank you for this opportunity, Kay.


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  • Thank you, Kay and Kathy, for the fun game and interview. As a member of the editing groups you founded, Kathy–The Christian PEN and The PEN Institute–I’ve learned so much. I love editing. One thing I’m seeing more of so would like to ask your take on it is this: The Chicago Manual of Style says not to use a comma to join a dependent clause with an independent clause. More and more I’m seeing a comma added by authors and publishers–especially in dialogue and deep point of view–with the reason given that the comma is indicating a pause when speaking or in the character’s thoughts. Is this now becoming “acceptable”? Or do you still go with the grammatical “rule” of no comma joining them? For example: “I really wanted to do that, but couldn’t,” Joe said.
    Thank you!

    • Good morning, Barbara! It’s so nice of you to stop by. For those who don’t know Barbara, she’s a first-rate editor. and a good friend. She also has a remarkable ability to read through a manuscript and remember details of a hundred pages earlier in the story that don’t quite fit the later narrative. I speak from experience: Barbara did the final proofread of Dead Man’s Watch and found numerous issues.
      Your question is an interesting one, Barbara. I’m always a little confused by commas, so I’m looking forward to hearing Kathy’s response.

      • Thank you for your kind words, Kay! But I assure you it’s not that I can actually remember all of the details–ha! It’s more a matter of having a style sheet or creating my own or making notes of characters and timelines along the way! 🙂 I have to do that even for my own stories! 🙂

    • Great to connect with you here, Barbara! You raise an excellent question. As long as I’ve been editing, I’ve seen authors use punctuation however seems right to them–especially commas. In the past, publishers hired multiple editors and proofreaders, and they instructed them to correct punctuation according to the industry-standard guidelines–with the occasional “house style” exception. Lately, with the proliferation of self-publishing and small presses, manuscripts often don’t get thorough editing or proofreading before publication. Even the big traditional publishers seem to be spending less time and money on editing and proofreading. And I think fewer editors and proofreaders are carefully following the established guidelines. But when I’m editing a manuscript, for an author or a publisher, I always do my best to follow the latest edition of CMOS. Not only does that give the manuscript the best chance it can have of being accepted by a traditional publisher, and give the publisher’s editors and proofreaders less to correct, it also provides readers with a more seamless reading experience–including readers who happen to be authors, editors, or proofreaders who know CMOS guidelines!

  • Good morning, Kay & Kathy! I took the punctuation test and only missed one. Whoohoo!!! Even so, I am NOT editor material. Case in point, the comma issue Barbara brought up. I look forward to Kathy’s take on that question. Commas alone are enough to put me off editing. Seems they’re always shifting around where they want to be!

    Like Kay, I am so grateful for editors and proofreaders who have made my work more readable and enjoyable. It’s a really good feeling to have a reviewer say they didn’t find any errors in your book. When they write that you know they were looking! The manuscript for my second novel is with a proofreader right now.

    Thank you, Kathy, for sharing with us today. I just got my copy of Editing Secrets on kindleunlimited and I can’t wait to dive in!

    • Good morning, Lisa!

      Only missed one? I bow to your impressive grammatical skills! Like you, I have a love-hate relationship with commas. They always seem to pop up in the wrong places.

      If your second novel is with a proofreader now, I take it that means it will be published soon. Can you give us a little insight into the book itself and when we will see it online or in book stores?

      • Thank you for asking, Kay! It’s a historical novel titled Stork Bite that takes place primarily in the early 20th century South. For your readers who might not know, a stork bite is a common birthmark. The title is a metaphor for the humanness we all share, despite our differences. It will be available online.

        I had another observation about punctuation and grammar that I forgot to make earlier. I feel I’ve been able to train my eye. I realized that what makes a passage look “right” is familiarity. I try to pay attention to properly punctuated passages and proper word usage so that they become more familiar than the incorrect way. I think it helps the correct usage become more natural. Do others find that to be the case? That familiar usage feels right, whether it is or not?

    • Congratulations on only missing one in the punctuation test, Lisa! And don’t worry about not being “editor material.” Many people who are wonderfully creative writers (a right-brained activity) aren’t good with analytical, detail-oriented editing (a left-brained activity). That’s why it’s so important for writers to use high-quality editors! (Well, that and the fact that none of us can spot all the mistakes in our own work.)

      There are many comma rules, and while the rules themselves don’t change very often, the ways people use them do tend to shift around. And you hit on an excellent point. What we see over and over becomes so familiar that it seems right even when it’s not. (I think there may be a sermon-worthy life parallel there!)

      As an editor, I love it when my authors get positive reviews and forward them to me … especially when the reviewers say they didn’t find any errors in the book! You’re right, Lisa–they do look!

      Thanks for getting Editing Secrets! Hope you are greatly blessed by its contents.

  • Kathy, It’s so great to have you back on the Craft of Writing blog! Welcome.

    A couple of additional questions: do you have any new books in the works? What’s next on the horizon for you?

    • My husband and I have been on a quest over the past few years to discover all of the largest sequoias–which happen to only live naturally in an area about 4-6 hours from our home. We’ve found all of the ones in a Top 40 list printed a few decades ago, and we’ve expanded that list to about 75. We’re working on a book that will have stories of our adventures along with the expanded list, including GPS locations and up-to-date directions.

      I’ve also been learning about screenplay writing from the guys who’ve spoken at my SoCal Christian Writers’ Conferences, and I’m polishing my first script.

  • Kathy,
    Thank you so much for being around and taking time to answer our questions! This is such a great opportunity to learn from you! 🙂

    • My screenwriting mentor suggested I start with a sweet Christmas script. So I came up with a story about a community theater director looking for a fresh idea for a Christmas play, and she stumbles across a manger scene … and the youth group leader who’s been trying to catch the people who’ve been stealing the baby Jesus the past two years.

  • Kathy and Kay,

    Nice interview. Kathy’s “PUGS” book is thorough and well-organized. It’s easy to find what you want. I remember spending and hour with CMOS a year ago and being unable to find an answer to my grammar question. Does any college offer a degree in how to navigate the 113-page CMOS index? 🙂

    Like Lisa Simonds, I also only missed one mistake in the punctuation test. The hyphen in dog-friendly. I knew it but forgot. This brings a question to mind for Kathy. I understand that some editors read each sentence backwards to help find spelling errors and such. Do you do that? Are there any other cool tricks you’d care to divulge?

    Another editing question, if I may. Do editors use the “Find” function in MS Word? For example, in counting the number of times the (overused) word “as” occurs. Or to look for occurrences of “said Dick” or “said Jane.”

    Thanks again to both of you.

    • Frank, you hit on the reason I wrote “Polishing the PUGS” in the first place (which later became “Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors)–to take the parts of CMOS that writers most need to know, organize them into an easy-to-find format, and give explanations that make sense to lay people!

      For Proofreading Secrets, I added tips from best-selling authors on how to check a manuscript for typos, inconsistencies, and inaccuracies. Reading backward is one of those tips–although I don’t use that one myself.

      My Editing Secrets book has lots of tips from myself and from best-selling authors on how to go deeper than typos and PUGS. There are a few tips for using the Find function, including the one you mentioned to find overused words. I use that function to correct where two spaces between sentences need to be replaced with one … and also to find and fix extra spaces at the beginning and end of paragraphs. (Typing a space and then ^p in the Find box, then just ^p in the Replace box. Then doing the same with the space after the ^p in the Find box.) A great help when it comes to the interior design stage!

  • Kathy,
    Your answer to Frank’s question made me think of another question–if I’m allowed two! 🙂
    Do you know what even causes those extra spaces before the paragraph symbol? As even when people aren’t sitting there typing period/space/enter those spaces still get in! Even after I’ve removed them from a document I can still go back and find that some more have crept in! It’s quite puzzling!
    Thank you!

  • Those pesky additional spaces often sneak in when we copy & paste, either from an outside source or within the document. The trick is the run the Find & Replace, with two spaces in the first box and one in the second box, until the counter gets down to zero. (And do it again if you make changes.)

  • Thanks for solving that mystery! I couldn’t figure out where they were coming from! 🙂

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