As an editor one thing I try to look for is missing or misplaced commas, or commas that are not needed.
This morning, in reading the online version of the San Jose Mercury ( California ), I saw this headline:
2-year-old, mother shot in Menlo Park drive-by
But still being half asleep, I missed the comma, and read it as:
2-year-old mother shot in Menlo Park drive-by
??? a 2 year old mother ??? That woke me up as I reread it.
In the past 20 years or so I've read several books, or chapters in books, on punctuation. The one place they seem to disagree with each other most is on where or whether to place a comma.
It's gotten so that I tend to follow the advice of one book, whose name I've forgotten.
If in doubt, listen to yourself as you read the sentence, either aloud or silently. If you hear a slight pause at the end of a phrase, use a comma. If you do not hear a pause, do not use a comma. If it is clearly a subordinate clause, separate it with a comma at the end of the preceding phrase and after the subordinate clause.
An example of this last is the ( or chapters in books )four paragraphs ahead of this one.
But even following this, there are exceptions to the rule and other experts who will disagree.