If you can’t be right…

If you can’t be right, at least be consistent. That’s advice that the folks at yahoo.com could use:

It looks like they couldn’t agree on how to abbreviate United Kingdom. Legitimate news outlets use a little something called a style (or editorial) guide so they avoid embarrassments like this.

That is not right

If you’re following these instructions on Yahoo! Makers, you may be stumped when it comes to step 3:

ie mak

Well, I guess that instruction would work if your initials and the initials of your beloved are K.B. and W.C. Otherwise, you’re screwed. Who wants a keepsake with someone else’s initials burned into it?

Of course, an editor familiar with common abbreviations (even those taken from Latin words) would have changed that i.e. to something else. A competent editor would know that i.e. stands for id est, meaning “that is or namely.” It’s often confused with e.g., which is the abbreviation that means “for example.” But why use an abbreviation at all? If you’re a Yahoo! writer, you’re sure to use the wrong one and your reader might not understand either one. So, go with real English words; for example, for example.

Is it news to you?

Did the writers and editors at yahoo.com overlook the fact that someday they might have to write about New York City and that they might want to abbreviate the city’s name? Yup. I know that because they can’t agree on how to do it. Somebody thought it needed periods:

fp nyc p

and somebody else thought, uh, no. No periods:

fp nyc no p

That’s kinda embarrassing. Or at least it would be embarrassing to a real news outlet that carried about things like consistency and that had and followed a style guide.

Editing you can DIY yourself

Here’s one headline on the Yahoo! front page that you can edit yourself:

fp yourself

Since DIY stands for “do it yourself,” this headline is a tad repetitious. It’s right up there in the Department of Redundancy Department with ATM machine and PIN number.

That is wrong

Here’s a novel idea: Don’t use abbreviations you don’t understand. If the writer for Yahoo! Makers had followed that advice, she wouldn’t have used the abbreviation i.e. (which is short for the Latin id est, or that is):

ie for eg mak

The writer is giving an example of an “infinite” mystery, not explaining what it is. If she’s going to use a Latin abbreviation, the correct one is e.g. — not that I’m recommending it. Writers, editors, and readers don’t understand i.e. or e.g. There are alternatives to using e.g., like such as, for example, for instance, and like.

Caught off-guard

It seems that the editors for the Yahoo! front page never considered that one day they might have to write about the United Kingdom. Or maybe they had never heard of the United Kingdom. That might account for their inability to decide how to abbreviate the country. Somebody thought it needed periods:

fp uk per

and someone thought it didn’t:

fp uk no per

That kind of embarrassing inconsistency is why legitimate news organization follow a style guide such as the Associated Press Stylebook.

Do they work for the same company?

Sometimes I think the people who write for yahoo.com work for differ companies; or maybe they work for the same company, but in different countries and they speak different languages and cannot communicate with each other. How else can I explain the inability for these “journalists” to agree on how to abbreviate United Nations?

fp un 2

Maybe no one would notice if these abbreviations didn’t appear together — again —  on the same page minutes later:

fp un

Why is it so hard to agree on something this basic? Is it that they just don’t care?

Didn’t get that H-1B visa?

I think this writer for Yahoo! Finance was rejected for an H-1B visa, so is writing from Mumbai, where they don’t know that there’s no hyphen in CEO and only one hyphen in H-1B:

ceo fin vid

Abbreviation mistakes: an example

If you’re using an abbreviation for a Latin phrase, make sure you know what you’re doing (i.e., use the correct one). Using an incorrect abbreviation can be make you look like another poorly edited website (e.g., yahoo.com).

fp putting green

Don’t do that. Don’t use the abbreviation i.e., which is short for the Latin “id est” or “that is.” You are bound to use it incorrectly. This writer is giving an example of an outrageous request and if any Latin abbreviation had to be used, it should have been e.g., which means “for example.” But really, your readers don’t know what those abbreviations mean and will skip over them when reading or mentally make up their own definition.

If you’re giving an example you could use “for example,” “for instance,” or the informal “like.” And there are always the new clichés that are used when the example is a person (like “I’m looking at you, Yahoo! editor” and “Yahoo! writer, anyone?”).

That’s an F for failure

If this photo caption from Yahoo! Style were written by a fourth grader, it’d get an F for a big fat failure:

show pre-nuptials sty

How the heck does this get published by one of the largest Internet companies in the world? The repeated word, the use of an apostrophe for an abbreviation, the misspelled launched and polka are all bad. Very bad. But the worst of these horrendous errors is the totally nonsensical, meaningless pile of words that ends the paragraph.

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