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  • Writer's pictureAmanda George

Confused by capitals? This story about a grammar-loving panda just might help


Once upon a time, there was a grammar-loving bear called Panda. She was black and white (obviously), she loved to munch on bamboo snacks, and she described herself as having mild (but sometimes useful) OCD. Panda worked at St Bear’s College in Cambridge for nearly a decade, where her job title was Publications Panda. She loved being the officer in charge of publications at such a beautiful college. Panda worked before that at a well-known bookshop (the Bookshop for Bears), also in Cambridge. Other bookshops are available, of course. And she had a side hustle selling bamboo snacks to ravenous bears, because retail didn’t pay that well, and she had bills to pay.


Panda then found herself running a freelance proof-editing business called Perfect Pandas, which meant she got to work with lots of different clients – and not all pandas, or even bears, come to think of it. In her spare time, Panda ran a voluntary organisation called The Sanctuary Pandas, which raised money for panda rescues around the world and created awareness of panda sentience, which is very important, if you’re a panda.


On a typical day Panda could work on the text of a charity website or a government white paper (His Majesty’s Government, or another government, for that matter). She loved working with researchers on their papers and articles. Especially when they let her know they had been published in top-ranking journals (The Journal for Philanthropic Pandas was one of her favourites). And it made her really happy when she could go through a college publication (The Annual Panda, for example) with her track changes – she was lucky enough to work freelance for St Bear’s College (and some other colleges). But best of all was when she got to panda-proof a book draft – but only if it had already been through the various stages of editing. Panda specialised in academic and business editing, not fiction, and book editing was a whole different basket of bamboo snacks.


Panda marvelled on a (more or less) daily basis at how the English language was evolving. When she first went freelance, she used to write ‘Internet’ with a capital letter; but more and more, she noticed, people were writing ‘internet’. And she was okay with that. Anything that made a text look cleaner. She was also okay with removing excessive capital letters from documents. All her clients knew that she did this because too many capitals make readers’ eyes tired. And if you can describe something rather than writing the official title, then that’s a back-of-the-net situation for any bear. Why keep referring to the World Panda Protection Society Committee when you can write about ‘the committee that discussed helping pandas’ or just ‘the committee’?


Finally, Panda secretly dreamed about one day being Panda I, Queen of England, so that she could make laws saving all the pandas and banning wars, and, of course, restricting the overuse of capital letters. But until the day came when she got to be queen, she would have to make do with editing things and running The Sanctuary Pandas in her spare time. It really wasn’t a bad life for a panda, after all.

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