Clash of styles

What do you do when you come up against a clash of styles? I’m not talking about wearing Birkenstocks with a prom gown, I’m talking about writing and trying to follow conflicting editorial guidelines. Case in point (or case and point, as one Yahoo! writer would say), this age on the Yahoo! front page:

fp 49 yr old

If you follow Associated Press style, you’d use numerals (not words) for the age of a person. But AP style also recommends not starting a sentence with numerals (except if the numerals are a year). If you write out the age correctly, it would be: Forty-nine-year-old. That’s a lot of hyphens. And it would violate the rule requiring numerals for the age of a person. So that would be: 49-year-old. But numerals can’t go at the beginning of a sentence.

I’m starting to feel a little dizzy.

What to do? Recast the sentence, of course! You’ll get a shorter sentence that’s easier to read without all those hyphens:

Bernard Hopkins, 49, seeks a historic bout…

What’s still going on at Yahoo?

Yesterday I did something I seldom do; I published a blog post with multiple boo-boos from the Yahoo! front page. Usually I just cover one, but the errors on yahoo.com were so numerous, that I lumped them all in a single post.

Did I just write “all”? That’s not quite accurate, because after that post went live, the hits misses just kept on comin’. Like this attempt at trying to spell Sprinkler:

fp sprinker

And this pathetic try at Steve Carell’s name:

fp steve carrell

This looks to be an attempt at saying “Johnny Manziel owes his appeal to” or “Johnny Manziel’s appeal is due to”:

fp appeal owes to

Oh, lordie. This so-called headline contains redundant quotation marks. Don’t use quotation marks if you’re using so-called because they mean the same thing:

fp so-called costco

I’m no chemist (in fact, chemistry was my weakest subject in college), but I know something about logic. Here’s the scoop: If everything in the world is made up of chemicals, you really don’t need to tell us that “not all are toxic” because it’s unlikely there would still be a human being alive if everything were toxic:

fp chemicals

Editor’s quick thinking saves headline

If only it were true. If only an editor had read this headline on Yahoo! Shine before it was published it might have included an apostrophe (for teens’) and the correct verb:

teens quick thinking shine

The writers’ age factor

Just what is the writers’ age factor (besides being an extremely awkward phrase)? Does a writer’s age have an influence on the quality of his or her writing? There’s lots of anecdotal evidence that those who graduated from high school in the last twenty years don’t have the same writing skills as their parents.  Is the writer for the Yahoo! front page — who forgot about a little apostrophe — one of those recent high school grads?

fp enrollees age

Let’s relegate that to the language dumpster

Let’s relegate the use of a hyphen after an adverb ending in -LY  to the Grammar Slammer. While we’re at it, let’s make a citizen’s arrest and haul in the Yahoo! Shine writer who also thinks that delegating is the right word:

delegating shine

I had never heard (or read) anyone use delegate when relegate was the word that was called for — until I started reading Yahoo!. Relegate means “to assign to an obscure place, position, or condition.” Delegate means “to commit or entrust to another.”

No, thanks. I’m allergic

Nuts? No, thanks.

Maybe you weren’t asking if I wanted some of that salty stuff. Maybe you were trying to ask an entirely different question. But, the truth is, the folks at yahoo.com were asking: Nuts?

fp nuts

Why can’t they remember that if the words inside the quotation marks form a question, then the question mark goes inside, too? It’s a common mistake at Yahoo!, and it just drives me nuts.

Well known for all the wrong reasons

Writers are just as well known for omitting hyphens (in brand-new, for example) as they are for using the wrong word. Case in point: This sentence from Yahoo! Sports:

brand new sports

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!.

Just don’t use it

If you’re unsure how to use an apostrophe, just don’t use it. If you’re wrong, you’ll look as ill-educated as the folks at Yahoo!.

You wouldn’t want to make the mistake of putting the apostrophe in the wrong place (as it is here on yahoo.com), would you?

fp 80s apost

If you don’t know that the apostrophe goes first (in ’80s) to show the omission of the 19, then don’t use one.

You’ll just embarrass yourself if you think you can form the plural of a noun with an apostrophe like this gaffe from Yahoo! News:

indians apost news

and this one from Yahoo! Movies:

coens apost movies

And I would be embarrassed for you if you used an apostrophe in a verb that isn’t a contraction:

celebrates apost news

Unsure about your punctuation abilities? Get some help. Just don’t ask anyone who works for Yahoo! for advice.

Yahoo’s ‘colonapocalypse’: Blogger reacts

Why can’t the writers and editors for the Yahoo! front page get this right? It’s not that hard:

fp colon quot

In the U.S., the period and the comma go before the closing quotation mark; in other English-speaking countries, it goes after. But two punctuation marks always go after the closing quote, regardless of where you’re writing: the semicolon and the colon.

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