A style all its own

Those wacky editors at Yahoo! Style are at it again! Mashing up two words to create a new, totally unnecessary word, like coffeetable:

coffeetable style

Not restrained by the conventions of correct punctuation, they place a question mark wherever they like, as if “The Fault in Our Stars” were a question:

quest quot style

Don’t like Justin Bieber? Neither do they! That’s why they refer to him as Beiber:

beiber style

And the noun must-have doesn’t have to have a hyphen:

must have style

Wow! Wouldn’t it be great to work for a site where you can do whatever you want?

Lessons from Yahoo Health

You can learn a lot just by reading the headlines at the home page of Yahoo! Health. You won’t learn anything about health, but you will learn what not to do when you write.

 

Lesson 1: Make sure your text isn’t longer than the space reserved for it.

You might read this and wonder “Sneak a workout in at what?” The opera? The line outside the ladies room at Yankee Stadium? Your kid’s piano recital? The options are endless.

miss word health

 

Lesson 2: Not every sentence beginning with what is a question.

This headline isn’t a question and “Listen to Your Body” isn’t a question. The only question is why would anyone think that question mark is necessary. Oh, and another question: How did you get a job as a writer?

what quest health

 

Lesson 3: You can’t always trust your spell-checker.

Facing a jury verdict and want to rise above it? You can! And you can do it in time for Race Day, which is apparently when you start running before they take you in for sentencing:

jury health

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 If you are a US English speaker, therefore, and you don’t want to come across to your audience as out of date or, heaven forbid, linguistically la-di-da, then it’s advisable to opt for among.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

Is that your question?

Bachelor? Yup, that’s a question. And it’s the question asked on the Yahoo! front page:

fp bachelor quot ques

I don’t know what’s so hard about this: If the words inside quotation marks form a question, the question mark goes before the closing quotation mark.

Would you call that rule “gnarly”?

How can you miss that?

How did the editor for Yahoo! Shine overlook the missing question mark in this headline?

missing quest shine

Where did it go? Here, at the end of an imperative sentence:

guess quest

Arousing suspicion

I suspect that the writers and/or editors over at Yahoo! Shine haven’t been trained in the wonder that is punctuation. If they had been, they’d know enough not to put the question mark here:

paradise quest

The question mark belongs after the closing quotation mark because the entire sentence is a question.

I suspect the writer didn’t look up the spelling of Lil’ Kim; if she had, she’d know there’s an apostrophe missing here:

lil kim shine

So, when the writers aren’t dropping punctuation marks, they’re adding them where they don’t belong, like here:

post-partum shine

The word is postpartum, without a hyphen.

And my favorite mistake, arousing my suspicion that no one at Yahoo! cares about spelling, is this misspelling:

arrousing shine

Eat clean? No thanks

Yahoo! Shine asks “Eat clean?” But, what does it really mean to “eat clean”?

clean quest shine

It means that the writer didn’t know where to put the question mark. In the U.S., the comma and period go before the closing quotation mark. A question mark or exclamation mark go before the closing quotation mark only if they apply to the words within the quotation marks.

Guess what’s not a question

Are you as confounded by punctuation as the staffers over at Yahoo! Shine are? They seem to just sprinkle those little marks in everything they write, like so much fairy dust, as if they’ll turn the simplest headlines into Pulitzer-worthy gems.

It doesn’t work that way. Adding a colon doesn’t make this headline more striking. It just looks silly:

prince colon

They must think that any sentence or headline that starts with how is a question. That’s not how it works:

quest mark shine

That’s not a question. Guess what else is not a question — this simple imperative sentence:

question mark shine

That’s not the question

Did Ranan Lachman ask himself a question? It’s not clear from this sentence on the Yahoo! front page:

fp quest

Correctly punctuated, the sentence gets a little awkward:

Why not find a way to rent pricey Lego sets for his son and return them when he was done? Ranan Lachman asked.

A better solution is to rewrite the sentence:

Ranan Lachman wondered if he could find a way to rent pricey Lego sets for his son and return them when he was done.

Ranan Lachman asked: Why not find a way to rent pricey Lego sets for his son and return them when he was done?

Put it where?

What kind of a question is that on the Yahoo! front page?

put a ring on it fp

Put a ring on it? That’s a question? Actually, no, it isn’t. The entire headline is the question and the question mark belongs after the ending quotation mark.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 785 other followers

%d bloggers like this: