Headline writing: when to

Headline writing: when to fall asleep. That’s tip I’d like to write about after reading this on the Yahoo! front page:

fp when to

To be a successful writer/journalist/editor, don’t fall asleep before you finish writing.

From the e. e. cummings school of journalism

The writer of this headline on Yahoo! Politics either attended the e.e. cummings school of journalism or is using a keyboard with a broken Shift key:

parenthood washington news

Using lowercase letters for proper nouns like Planned Parenthood and Washington is the sort of thing you’d expect from a tween who thinks it’s cool to buck convention. It’s not what you’d expect from a website trying to gain respectability.

Go figure!

Go figure! Won’t you know that the editor/writer/whoever who writes for Yahoo! Celebrity doesn’t know the difference between a figurine (which is a small statuette) and a figure (which isn’t):

figurines cel

But wait! That’s not the only goof here. That sentence is complete idiocy: It claims that someone seeing Ms. Mirren meet the “figurines” will be giving one of Ms. Mirren’s greatest performances. Huh?

A word that’s not right

English is funny. And challenging. It provides lots of words for lots of circumstances. But it’s also missing a few words that would be of benefit to writers and readers. One of those missing words is a possessive form of the word that. (Make that two missing words; which doesn’t have a possessive form either.) But that didn’t stop the writer for Yahoo! Autos from trying to come up with one — and failing:

car thats auto

The writer might have used whose: a car whose value is beginning to soar. But that might have set off alarm bells among grammarians who feel who and whose cannot be applied to non-humans. What’s a writer to do? Recast the sentence. One of these might have worked:

  • a car with a value that’s beginning to soar
  • when the car’s value is beginning to soar
  • a car the value of which is beginning to soar

Each of those options is slightly longer, slightly different in meaning, or slightly awkward. But none of those would have appeared in Terribly Write.

How many jobs?

Huh? How many jobs could disappear, according to yahoo.com?

fp million of

There’s no way of knowing because million of should be either million or millions.

Pesky little typos. Always screwing things up for the reader.

So much to know

Professional writers have to carry around a lot of knowledge. They need to know grammar, spelling, English, and maybe something about the subject of their writing. At least that’s what I thought until I started reading Yahoo! Style. As it turns out, you don’t need to know much to be a paid professional there. You can drop words from sentences:

saddle bag sty

You can display an ignorance of your subject matter. (The handbag style known as a saddle bag was not inspired by a saddle. It was inspired by a little something called a saddle bag — which attaches to a saddle.) You certainly don’t need to know how to spell giddyup, which is an interjection used here as a verb. And you don’t need to provide details like the number of bags in the world. Personally I think that last sentence should include “only one billion trillion of each.”

Can you spot the error?

Here’s a fun little puzzler for you. Can you spot the error in this headline from Yahoo! Makers?

fit fit diy hp

Two seconds is too much

The eagle-eyed editors at the Yahoo! home page need to remove the second seconds and keep the first seconds, or remove the first seconds and keep the second seconds:

fp seconds

How to repel readers

Want to repel your readers? Just follow the example of this writer for Yahoo! Makers who looked at this photo…

repel diy

and decided the workers were repelling down a dam:

repel caption

That’s a picture of workers as they rappel down the dam. Damn! That’s an embarrassing mistake.

Dumbest Statement of the Day

Readers of this caption on Yahoo! Style might expect that it goes with an X-rated (or maybe just a PG-13-rated) photo:

sport bra sty cap

Sorry to disappoint. You should know by now to never trust anything that’s written by a Yahoo! scribe. Here’s the picture of our Ms. Brooks who appears to be wearing a cap, shorts, and footwear. And a sports bra:

sport bra sty pic


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