Best- and worst-case scenarios

What’s the best-case scenario for the Yahoo! front page? That you’d never find a misspelling, typo, missing word, or ugly grammar ever. What’s the worst-case scenario? That you’d find all that and more on yahoo.com. Those are the best- and worst-case scenarios.

But is that what the writer for yahoo.com meant here?

fp best worst-case

What the writer actually wrote was: Best scenarios and worst-case scenarios. Without the suspensive hyphen in best-, there’s no way to tell that it is associated with the word case. A suspensive hyphen shows the omission of a repeated word. It’s a way to avoid saying “best-case, worst-case scenarios.”

The use of the suspensive hyphen is a mystery to many Yahoo! scribes. Maybe the writer for yahoo.com was following the lead of the Einstein at Yahoo! Sports who wrote this:

best case sports 1

or the person who wrote this headline:

best case sports 2

It’s like an epidemic of punctuation omissions over at Yahoo!.

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3 Responses to “Best- and worst-case scenarios”

  1. Lisa B. Says:

    Hi, Laura! I enjoy your blog but I’ve noticed have started to do a lot of name-calling. IMO it makes you look petty and you don’t need to do that to get your point across. Keep up the great work!

    • Laura Says:

      Thanks for your comment. I do call Yahoo’s writers “Einsteins” or “geniuses” occasionally, so if that’s what you mean, I’m guilty. It’s clearly sarcasm and not what I’d consider “name-calling.” I try to describe the impression poor writing makes by saying “it makes you look uneducated/sloppy/lazy/careless/foolish etc.” Again, it’s not saying the writer is “uneducated/sloppy/ etc” (even tho’ I may believe that) — but only that poor writing leaves an impression on readers about the writer. These folks are all paid professionals. I’m not criticizing the corner grocery for a typo in a sign or the restaurant around the corner for a misspelled menu item. These people should be held to a higher standard because what they write is read by millions of people around the world — people who may believe they are reading correct English and accurate statements. They have access to resources to ensure that what they write is correct and accurate, but when they don’t bother to even use a spell-checker, then maybe they do deserve some “name-calling.”

  2. Old Man Says:

    Frankly, I think the names you call them are too mild. These people are an embarrassment to the profession.


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