Most editors have seen it, whether in work or in samples: a manuscript with so many randomly placed commas that we just scratch our heads.

Before any authors reading this gets offended, hold on! Commas are hard, and editors obsess over the confusing need for them in specific sentences too. But if commas weren’t hard, we editors probably wouldn’t have as much work, so while we may sometimes come across as indignant or smug over comma usage, deep down we know that commas are part of our livelihood.

I’ve had this thought a couple of times. I’ve even seen a literal comma sneeze first hand. One time, my son was on my lap while I had a manuscript open, and being a little kid, he sneezed very violently all over my desk (lovely, I know). Later, after cleanup, I spent a furious minute trying to delete a REALLY stubborn comma from the manuscript. Curse you, Microsoft Word! Oh, wait.

Yeah, you guessed it—it was toddler spit.

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