Previously, I discussed my passion for our friend semicolon.
Today, I want to talk about commas. Not a mark that needs defending, certainly, as its overuse is rampant. However, a few commas (or lack thereof) can determine whether you get paid the $5000 you are owed or the $1000 your client thinks he owes you.
Let me explain.
I just got a tragic email from a friend, a talented photographer. She was commissioned to shoot five different series of ten photographs each for an interior design client. My friend responded thusly:
“I would charge $1000 for 10 photographs per installation as a flat rate.”
The photographs were provided and everyone was happy. Until she got a check in the mail for $1000. She knew right away what her mistake was.
“I should have written: ‘I would charge $1000 for 10 photographs, per installation, as a flat rate.’”
In the original email, she said that she would shoot 10 photographs per installation and that her flat rate was $1000. What she wanted to communicate was that her flat rate is $5000, or $1000 per installation. She did contact her client to clear up the mistake, but he is refusing to budge. He got a deal.
This story also speaks to the importance of making clients sign contracts, if only to make sure everybody is on the same page. Just so long as the commas in the contract are correct.