Wednesday, August 2, 2017

It's (it is) important to proof every aspect of your book

Here's the cover of a book that I bought recently because I'm interested in its content — the 1978 memoir features Lancaster County Amish farmer Gideon Fisher relating his memories of the Great Depression and anecdotes from a half-century of change and progress on the farmstead. I am interested in that topic, so I tried not to be too critical of the blunder on the cover. The hand-drawn dust jacket presents the book's title as Farm Life and it's changes.

Setting aside the curious capitalization decisions, there's a glaring its/it's mistake right there on the cover. As a newspaper editor, I can tell you this is one of the most frustratingly common mistakes in the language. Folks just have problems understanding correct apostrophe usage. (You should see the hundreds of posts on the website Apostrophe Catastrophes.)

It's quite rare, however, to see a mistake of this magnitude on a book cover, even if the book was published by an independent press — Pequea Publishers of Gordonville in this case. And before you start thinking that this mistake was confined to the cover illustration, you can see here that it's repeated, in inch-tall letters, on the spine...


Inside, the apostrophe usage is correct on the title page of the book. But, alas, there is a different problem.

First Addition. Addition?!!? Really?

I wonder what the over/under is on editing and grammar mistakes I will discover when I read Fisher's 384-page book.


  1. Where do you stand on the four-dot ellipsis?

    Many sources state that an ellipsis should only be used in a quotation where some text has been omitted for conciseness without sacrificing context; yet even putting aside the requirement that it be used in quotations only, shouldn't you have used four dots ("on the spine....") instead of three, since the sentence had come to an end?

    Apostrophes aren't the only grammatical pain in the....


    -- M.F.

    1. Touché. I will fully admit to being extremely inconsistent on the ellipsis. I toss those dots around like candy. It will probably cost me my shot at the Ephemera Blogging Hall of Fame, and rightfully so.