All writing serves a purpose

All writing serves a purpose. And the purpose of this article from Yahoo! Style may be to illustrate what not to do. First lesson: If you’re including names in your article, spell them correctly. It’s not enough to just misspell them in the same way. If you’re writing about Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Google her name.


Second, if you’re writing about editors-in-chief, don’t capitalize the title and don’t look like an idiot by forming the plural incorrectly. And make sure you’re confident enough in your English to include the article the in “in the second row” and “in the third row.”

Don’t follow the example of this gal. She’s nothing if not consistent. When she misspells a name like Stella Tennant, she sticks with it. None of this silly Googling a name to check the spelling:


Finally we encounter this gem, a sterling example of what not to do:


The takeaway: Read everything you write before you publish it. Read everything you write before you publish it.

So few words, so many mistakes

What was the writer for Yahoo! News‘ “The Sideshow” going for with this?

scarlett letter news

Is this a reference to Scarlett Johansson? No? In that case, scarlet is the correct spelling?

Is this a reference to the novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne? Yes? Then it should be “The Scarlet Letter,” with the word The as part of the title. No? Then it should be the scarlet letter, without quotation marks or capital letters.

Whatever the writer was trying to convey, she failed.

The day the reader cried

So, the Einstein responsible for the title of this video clip on Yahoo! Movies forgot a few things, like an apostrophe after Lewis to show possession. And some quotation marks around the movie title would help readers:

died movies

But this would still make any reader cry, even if the video title were: Jerry Lewis’ “The Day the Clown Died” Footage Leaks.

Why? Because the movie’s title is “The Day the Clown Cried.”

Capitalizing on others’ mistakes

Here’s a rule of thumb about the Yahoo! front page: It always includes at least one error. If a word is capitalized, it probably shouldn’t be; if it isn’t, it should be:

Just like other currencies (including the peso, dollar, and drachma), euro doesn’t get a capital letter.

The word governor shouldn’t get a capital letter unless it precedes the governor’s name:

Is this wrong?

Of course it is; Wi-Fi is a trademark of the Wi-Fi Alliance.

Do you think the person who wrote these headlines is sorry about the incorrect capitalized words?

I don’t think so. You have to be aware of your mistakes to regret them.

More outsourced news from Yahoo!

Friday, I was sitting at my keyboard wondering if Yahoo! had outsourced the writing and editing of the Yahoo! front page. Later that day, I was no longer wondering It’s a certainty. No one educated in the United States would make the kinds on errors on that appeared right after I published that post. (Gawd, I hope that’s true; I just don’t want to believe that a product of the U.S. educational system would make these gaffes.)

There’s a repeated word here, which any third-grader could spot:

And a few nonsensical words here:

Someone from Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan doesn’t know if this compound adjective needs a hyphen, so hedging all bets, included and excluded the little character:

I’d like to write a thank-you note to the writer for giving me more examples of a missing hyphen:

Is the writer terrible or just “very good”? I’m going with terrible, since he or she clearly has no idea where to place a question mark:

This may be correct, but probably isn’t:

The duchess and the queen are still only commoners when it comes to capitalization:

But Southern is more than a direction when it refers to a region of the U.S.:

What color is Queen Elizabeth?

Queen Elizabeth is blue. I don’t know if that means she’s suffering from depression or the fate of Violet Beauregarde. But according to the geniuses who write for the Yahoo! front page, the queen is the same color as the Duchess of Cambridge’s dress, which is blue:

When those Einsteins aren’t making colorful allegations, they’re destroying what’s left of the English language. According to the Associated Press style, the titles duchess and queen are not capitalized unless they precede a name.

For their edification, I offer an alternative:

The duchess matches her dress color to the queen’s…

Capital confusion

There’s inexplicable confusion about titles on the Yahoo! front page. I just don’t understand why professional writers and editors can’t figure out when to capitalize a title and when not to. Example: the Duchess of Cambridge. She gets a capital D when you refer to her full title; but when it’s just duchess? Not so much:

But the good folks over at the Internet giant are even more confused when it comes to referring to the president, President Obama:

As for Whitney’s Houston’s, I think that has something to do with the late pop singer and a city in Texas.

What’s wrong here?

What’s wrong on the home page of Yahoo! News today? Just a few things (so far), like this incorrect capitalization of president:

That word gets a capital letter only when it precedes the name of the president; otherwise, it’s just a common noun. Someone mislead the editor.

The editor was also misled about the past tense of mislead:

Maybe the person who wrote that thought that mislead is like read: The past tense of read is read, so the past tense of mislead must be mislead. Wrong.

This isn’t quite the same wreck as that, but it isn’t shipwreck, but should be:

When the speaker is right. And wrong

Displaying a profound indifference to consistency, the writer for the Yahoo! front page capitalizes speaker once and then forgets to do it again:

According to the Associated Press style, the title speaker should be capitalized only when it immediately precedes the speaker’s name.

Forrest Gump, Sean Penn, Julianne Moore and Kyra Sedgwick: What’s the link?

What do Forrest Gump, Sean Penn, Julianne Moore, and Kyra Sedgwick have in common? They’ve all appeared in the same article on Yahoo! Shine. And they’ve all had their name mangled by the writer.

It starts here:

When she’s not misspelling names, the writer is making up her own rules about capitalizing titles, which require an initial cap on important words:

Along with crushing names, the writer makes a typo (it should be his mom) and throws in a yard sale of punctuation marks, only two of which are correct:

Proving that she’s really challenged when it comes to knowing when to hit the Shift key, she downplays what should be Tony Award:

Finally, it’s Kyra Sedgwick who’s thrown into the mix and a missing word that’s probably grateful it didn’t get caught in this mess:

Hey, at least she spelled Kevin Bacon’s name right.

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