What could possibly be wrong with this headline on Yahoo! Parenting?
The punctuation. Two punctuation marks never go before a closing quotation mark: a colon and a semicolon.
Here’s something you don’t see often, three consecutive punctuation marks:
I don’t know the thinking behind all those little symbols on Yahoo! Parenting, but at least one of them is in the wrong place. If the writer insists on using both quotation marks and a colon, then the colon should go after the closing quotation mark. It is one of two punctuation characters that always go after a closing quotation mark in the U.S.; the other is the semicolon.
Even if the writer for Yahoo! Movies had remembered to put the hyphen in run-in, the word would still be wrong:
A run-in is a quarrel or argument; it’s not a casual meeting.
But aside from that, what mistakes did the writer make? There’s some problem with familiar faces, because the writer implies that Lindsay Lohan and Tina Fey share the same face:
This writer really has issues with punctuation. She puts an erroneous apostrophe is Wednesdays and puts a semicolon within quotation marks. In U.S. English, two punctuation characters never, ever go before a closing quotation mark: a colon and a semicolon.
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:
They must think that any sentence or headline that starts with how is a question. That’s not how it works:
That’s not a question. Guess what else is not a question — this simple imperative sentence:
Why can’t the writers and editors for the Yahoo! front page get this right? It’s not that hard:
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.
In the U.S., two punctuation marks always go after a closing quotation mark: the colon and semicolon. Except on the Yahoo! front page, where the rules of punctuation are optional:
We Americans just like to do things differently. One of those things is where we place some punctuation marks relative to quotation marks. In the U.S., periods and commas go inside quotation marks, like this:
I said, “Periods go inside quotation marks.”
“Commas do too,” I added.
The rest of the English-speaking world tends to disagree with us Yanks. But there is one rule of punctuation we all agree on — everyone except the writers and editors at Yahoo! News: Colons and semicolons always go outside quotation marks.
There seems to be some confusion over at Yahoo! News concerning the location of a colon relative to a closing quotation mark:
Two punctuation marks never go before a closing quotation mark: a colon and a semicolon.
Americans do things a little differently from the rest of the English-speaking word when it comes to punctuation. Unlike the rest of the world, we put periods and commas before a closing quotation mark. But there are two punctuation marks that always go after a closing quotation mark, regardless of the English-speaking country you’re in: the colon and the semicolon. So, it doesn’t matter where you read this headline on Yahoo! Shine, it’s just wrong:
and so is this headline on Yahoo! News: