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Q. Very wealthy event sponsor Thurston Quagmire III insists on presenting his name to the public as Thurston Quagmire, III—no doubt because his letterhead and business card have long contained the error. Since throwing the book at him doesn’t help, do you have any advice on talking him out of the comma? (Okay, what I’d really like is a cathartic, subversive response that I can keep to myself whilst I lower our standards.)
A. If other names on the list are so encumbered, then copyediting for consistency is the editor’s prerogative. And if house style takes out the comma, it needn’t suggest that Thursty’s business cards are wrong. It’s just a style. But evidently this moneyman is allowed to micromanage, and if style books don’t impress him, there’s nothing CMOS can say about it. Wealth has its privileges! Perhaps you can add a comma before each “Jr.” in the list as well, and take comfort in the parallel.