You write the top, I’ll write the bottom

In this episode of “You Write the Top, I’ll Write the Bottom” from the Yahoo! front page, we witness the confusion over the capitalization of eBay when it starts a headline:

fp ebay

Real news sites have standards that explain how to treat a word in camel case (that is, when it contains a capital letter between the first and last letters) when it starts a sentence. I guess Yahoo! doesn’t believe in standards for its writers.

Did you out a word?

Do you proofread your pearls to make sure you haven’t left out a word? Why risk the embarrassment that a Yahoo! News writer is facing with the claim that “Suspect in missing Virginia student linked to…”:

embassy news

You might also do a little research to make sure you haven’t undercapitalized a word, such as embassy, which should have an initial cap when it’s preceded by the country’s name. According to Associated Press style, it’s the Ethiopian Embassy, the American Embassy, but an embassy.

Election Day is more important

In the U.S., the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November is Election Day. It’s so important that it is officially a proper noun with two capital letters. Except on yahoo.com:

fp elect day

More off-shored writing?

When I write that Yahoo! must be out-sourcing the writing of its content to third-world countries, I think I’m being sarcastic. After seeing this on yahoo.com, I think I may be accurate:

fp south lc

It seems more likely that a writer in Bamako, and not one in the United States, would not know that South is capitalized when referring to the southeast region of the U.S.

If the writers really work in the U.S., then you’d think they’d know how to capitalize Bay Area, especially since it is home to Yahoo! headquarters:

fp bay area lc

Do you swear on the Bible?

Would you swear on the Bible that this is the correct capitalization on the Yahoo! front page?

fp bible lc

According to the Associated Press, which publishes the journalists bible, Bible is capitalized when it refers to the Old Testament or the New Testament, but lowercase when it’s a nonreligious term.

What’s better than botox?

What’s better than botox? Spelling it correctly — with a capital B. Botox is a registered trademark, and not the generic noun that the writer for yahoo.com thinks it is:

fp botox lc

Well, at least you’ll learn about techniques that will banish wrinkles better than Botox does, right? No. The article never mentions Botox, which is probably a good thing, since the writer would likely misspell it.

Capital crimes

It should be a crime (or at least a misdemeanor), to capitalize a word needlessly. You wouldn’t capitalize the word writer, would you? So why would anyone capitalize the word director, when it is simply an occupation or job, and not an official title? Oh, yeah, I almost forgot: This is yahoo.com and normal rules of language do not apply:

fp director uc

The writer probably thought it was really special, just as the writer for Yahoo! Travel thought that mecca was really deserving of a capital letter:

mecca cap travel

Sometimes, it does get an uppercase M — when it refers to the city in Saudi Arabia. But if the reference is to a place that is visited by many people, then it’s just a mecca.

Some people love autumn so much they bestow a capital letter on fall. That’s especially true over at Yahoo! Style, where the writers seem to think that style refers to making up your own rules about English:

fall cap style

And here:

fall uc style

And here:

fall cap style 2

And spring has sprung into a proper noun in the mind of at least one writer:

spring uc style

Not to be left out of the Society to Elevate Seasons to Proper Nouns, a writer for Yahoo! Movies decides that if fall gets a cap, so does autumn:

autumn cap movies

Capital crimes? Maybe not, but I’m willing to make a citizen’s arrest and take the case (lowercase, of course), to court.

Amongst your words, that is the most pretentious

The new site Yahoo! Style may be setting some records in the number and severity of errors that it displays every day. These errors from a recent article are among the most amateurish on the site:

font style 1

The word amongst is a synonym for among. Is it wrong? Not exactly, but it’s just not as common in the U.S. as it is in other English-speaking countries. And Americans aren’t all that fond of the word. The OxfordWords blog sums up the sentiment of many Americans:

[M]any authorities (such as Garner’s Modern American Usage) and language blogs state that, in US English, amongst is now seen as old-fashioned, and even ‘pretentious’. If you are a US English speaker, therefore, and you don’t want to come across to your audience as out of date or, heaven forbid, linguistically la-di-da, then it’s advisable to opt for among.

As for the other error in that paragraph, I believe there’s a mismatch between the subject designer and the verb, which should be tells. I can’t be sure since there appears to be some extra words, but I think the writer promises to let us know what the designer is listening to. That is simply a lie. The interview that follows does not include any such info.

The interviewer was clearly in the dark about Josef Albers’ “Interaction of Color,” which is a book. The designer was also influenced by the Blaschkas, a father and son, and not just one misspelled person:

font style 2

It would have been nice (and expected from a real site with any integrity) to check the references made by the person being interviewed. But this is Yahoo!, and journalistic integrity is not a priority.

Also not a priority? Punctuation. At least, correct punctuation is not a priority. Maybe someone will tell us about the process the writer has for distinguishing between a question and an imperative sentence:

font style 3

Keep the kids away from the keyboard

This is what happens when you let the kiddies take over the keyboard and write for a site like Yahoo! Style: You get amateurish writing, juvenile vocabulary, and sloppy errors. I don’t know if the writer is a teen or a tween, just that she writes like one.

A professional writer covering New York Fashion Week should know how many capital letters to use. But that’s not all; the errors are nonstop (which is one word, not two). She seems like a writer I typically wouldn’t chat with:

adderall style 1

It’s Groundhog Day, not this thing the writer made up:

adderall style 2

If you’re writing about Adderall, don’t you think you should know when to hit the Shift key? It’s common to refer to a certain period as the mid-90s and it’s more common to include all words, even the in “as the wonder drug”:

adderall style 3

Is this the kind of writing they’re featuring on Yahoo! now? Does the writer have such a paucity of words that she can’t come up with a better way to express this?

adderall style 4

Clearly she has no idea what a proper noun is, like Instagram and Tumblr:

adderall style 5

(Since Yahoo! also owns Tumblr, she might want to learn how to spell it.)

The writing is so bad that I’m practically dozing off.  But I perk up when I see a quote this bad. (It should be “said, ‘You’re welcome.’) And again with the undercapitalized Adderall!

adderall style 6

I don’t know how this went off the rails so badly:

adderall style 7

There’s at least one way to correct that: “At every dinner, cocktail party, and even shows.”

Lordie, I guess we can’t expect kids these days to know about the use of a hyphen in a compound adjective like “four-hour” or to know how to proofread so that no words are missing:

adderall style 8

This wouldn’t be complete without one more lowercased Adderall:

adderall style 9

So, that wasn’t so bad, was it? Not if the writer’s a 10-year-old.

Do you work for the same company?

I know nothing about fantasy sports. Until I read the Yahoo! front page, I thought fantasy sports was something adults engaged in in the privacy of their own bedroom.

But I was wrong. Fantasy sports, with a big capital F, has something to do with football (of the American variety):

fp fantasy uc

But, fantasy sports with a lowercase F has something to do with… uh, well, football:

fp fantasy lc

I think those brainiacs at Yahoo! are just trying to confuse me and illustrate the company’s support of individuality and creativity. F consistency!

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