Businesses told to beware of the humble comma!

Category: Networking - Free Advice

Release Date: 02/05/2017

Local businesses have been warned of the need to take the humble comma seriously after a dairy company in the USA had to face an overtime bill of about $10m (£8m) all because of the lack of a comma.

Members of the ebn (effective business network) Southend Group received this warning from Group Member Dallas Willcox of Simply Words Editing Services, a proofreading and copywriting company.

Dallas told them how the missing comma from the phrase "packing for shipment or distribution of" (the comma should have been after the word 'shipment') in the State of Maine's overtime laws had created a loophole in the Regulations on overtime payments.

Dallas said: "Although this was an extreme case, it demonstrates how easily the meaning of a sentence can be changed by a misplaced or missing comma, and this can result in a financial loss to a business, whatever its size.

"Even the most enterprising of business owners sometimes have difficulty with punctuation, and could receive help with this for a very small outlay.The price of my proofreading services start at only £20, for example."

"Out of all the errors that can be made with punctuation, problems with commas can be the most serious.The title of Lynne Truss's popular book 'Eats, Shoots and Leaves' is a well-know illustration of this.

"I frequently give presentations in which I show examples from my collection of bad spelling, grammar and punctuation – often seen outside business premises in Essex – and commas feature in many of them."

ebn Managing Director Glenys Chatterley said: "ebn members not only build good contacts to help grow their businesses but also get regular, free advice from experts to help them meet both their business and personal needs. Details of all our Groups are included on our website:"


Notes for Editors

For the full details of the USA overtime case, see the BBC News web page


ebn Managing Director Glenys Chatterley on 07780 666726

Dallas Willcox of Simply Words Editing Services on 07757 234521

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