Warning: Profanity ahead

Warning: This headline from Yahoo News contains content unsuitable for children:

Lots of news outlets are now including the profane words of America’s current president, as if it were acceptable speech. But most of them are also using correct grammar and are able to match a verb and its subject. Some of them also follow standard guidelines and don’t capitalize the word senator unless it directly precedes a senator’s name.


Why? Fie!

Why did the editors at Yahoo News think this was OK? It’s not.

The Wi-Fi Alliance owns the trademark for Wi-Fi, which has a hyphen and two capital letters. It’s like Crock-Pot, another registered trademark that Yahoo staffers often mistreat.

Which states would that be?

Which states did the plane return to? According to Yahoo Entertainment, a plane carrying Chrissy Teigen “headed back to the states.” But I can’t find any info on the states it returned to:

If the writer meant the plane returned to the United States (and I presume she did), then she should have capitalized states. That way it’s clear to readers she was referring to the country.

This is infuriating

This is infuriating. At least I think that’s the word the Yahoo News editor meant to use:

I don’t know if Ellen DeGeneres is infuriated, too, by the fact that the editor or writer can’t quite get her name right.

What’s your style?

If you’re a writer, editor, blogger, or just someone interested in writing in excruciatingly correct English, you might have occasion to refer to a style guide. A style guide can be an internal company document or a public publication, like the Associated Press Stylebook. Many media companies use the AP guide as the definitive source of spelling, capitalization, word choice, and the like. But not Yahoo News, apparently.

According to AP style, cabinet should be capitalized when referring to the president’s advisers, and not to a piece of furniture. (Other authorities, such as the Government Printing Office and the New York Times, recommend capitalizing the word in that context.) But ultimately it’s a matter of house style. So, I’ll give that one a pass.

Not getting a pass? The use of him instead of the reflexive pronoun himself. (When the subject and the pronoun refer to the same person, use a reflexive pronoun, which ends with self or selves.)  And obviously, the doubled and in and and.

Happy Fourth of July!

It’s Independence Day here in the U.S. That’s a day also referred to as the Fourth of July, except at Yahoo! Style where the national holiday gets no respect:

In case you think that’s a careless typo, here it is again:


So you think you can capitalize. . .

The writer and editor of this excerpt from Yahoo! Style probably think they know when to capitalize a word:

In this case, they would be wrong. When referring to the United States, States is a proper noun. (So, if you live in Australia and want to visit three states, you have to travel to the States.)  They probably also think they know the title of that TV show called “So You Think You Can Dance.” They’re almost right: There is no question mark in the title.

Is this a case of fake news?

If a major Internet news site like Yahoo! News writes a headline about someone it calls Greg Allman, is it fake news?

The editors haven’t just misspelled Gregg Allman’s name; they’ve overcapitalized or undercapitalized the name of his band. It seems they just can’t decide if it was the Allman Brothers Band of The Allman Brothers Band.

The real Twitter problem

When an Internet giant makes a mistake in a headline on its front page, it’s impossible to ignore:

The real problem is the misuse of a trademark. When referring to the social network, Twitter is a trademark deserving a capital letter.

Scotch that spelling!

Some trademarks are so common in English that they have become common nouns. But Scotch tape isn’t one of  them. The Yahoo! Style writer should have capitalized Scotch or referred to the sticky stuff as cellophane tape:

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