What is the difference between a cat and a comma?

As a PR professional, I spend most of my day reading, writing and editing. There is always an article to skim, a press release to be written or PR plan to edit. Inevitably, there are a lot of office conversations that argue the nuances found in the English language.

Improper Capitalization: Seasons

One of the most common issues I see in news articles and within our own office is the improper capitalization of seasons such as winter, summer, spring and fall. Even in my own writing, I refer back to my trusty AP Stylebook to remind me if it is

INCORRECT: The restaurant will open to the public in late Spring.
CORRECT: The restaurant will open to the public in late spring.

Oxford Comma

It’s almost every time I write a press release, I receive edits that “correct” my AP Style format and switch my series comma to an Oxford comma. For everyone else who isn’t a complete grammar nerd, the following are examples of a series comma in AP Style and an Oxford comma.

AP STYLE: My favorite colors are teal, navy and red
OXFORD COMMA: My favorite colors are teal, navy, and red.

An Oxford comma is used primarily used in English Literature classes and creative writing (MLA format) and also by our friends across the pond; hence Oxford.

Affect vs. Effect

This is a very common mistake found throughout papers of high school students and college professors alike. The easiest way to remember this rule is that affect is a verb and means to influence while effect is a noun and refers to a result. As an example:

AFFECT: The game will affect the standings.
EFFECT: He miscalculated the effect of his actions.

There will always be mistakes due to grammar and AP Style. Regardless of how you have worked as a public relations professional, it never hurts to pull out your trusty AP Stylebook and check your work. One word of advice, make sure it’s an updated copy. The AP Stylebook I have from college is about 300 pages, but the latest edition is over 600 pages!

Question: What is the difference between a cat and a comma?

Answer: One has claws at the end of its paws and the other has a pause at the ends of its clause.

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