On Commas, Spaces, and Find and Replace

So, in some circles I’m referred to as the comma queen. That is because I love commas. I put them in way too much. I love the terminal comma–but I blame that on my upbringing. I was a child of the seventies, and they taught the addition of a comma before and as is used in this sentence. I have since learned that “we” don’t use terminal commas much these days and the reason being is simple, we’re conserving paper. You remove a bunch of terminal commas from a full length manuscript and you save 2 or 3 pages, sometimes 4.

Every page is money. Which is also why we no longer space twice after a period. Now, you would think that ebooks wouldn’t mind that extra space in there, but the truth is, publishers like to set up the manuscript once. Why have two spaces after periods in a manuscript, then change it to two spaces after a period in another version. Seems silly, doesn’t it?

The truth is, in my first manuscript, I had two spaces and was told I needed only one, so, being a novice writer, I went line by line and changed each one. Now, I have learned that the find and replace feature in WORD allows you to do the space change with a single maneuver.

Find and replace is a wonderful tool, but I learned something very important from using it. I had a character named ROB in my first two novels, same guy, second book was a sequel. Love that name for some reason. Maybe because the Rob in my first novel is such a great guy. Anyhow, I thought I’d do a find and replace on his name for the second book since I was using a different publisher and they wanted the book to stand alone. I used the find and replace. I ended up learning a very important lesson. The letters in the name ROB are in many different words. The word PROBLEM became my heartache. I didn’t realize how many times I’d used it in that 160,000 word manuscript. Now, when you’re doing a line by line, word by word edit, you have a lot of work on your hands.

Solution: Name your characters something creative like ZIGGY or something. Then, if you want to change it, you can do it with a simple find and replace maneuver.

To do a find and replace on anything from spaces to words, go up to EDIT and drop down, there you will find FIND.  There, you can search for words or let the drop down feature work for you, and replace all instances of that word. You can also replace all terminal commas by typing in: , and    replacing with  and, no comma.

I hope this saves you from hours of intensive editing hours. Lord knows I could have used it numerous times before someone explained the feature to me.


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2 Responses to “On Commas, Spaces, and Find and Replace”

  1. sharonervin Says:

    Jen, great advice, oh comma queen. I read and absorbed every word, hopefully.


    Author of AFTERMATH

  2. nancyhartney Says:

    No matter how many times I review rules of grammar and punctuation, I find I always learn something new. Thanks for your writing tips and author interviews. Nancy Hartney

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