Numbers are hard

Basic elementary school arithmetic has proven to be beyond the mastery of Yahoo! writers. Now we see that even writing a number is just too hard for one Yahoo! Style writer:

12thousand sty

Who writes like that? Who speaks like that? First, if you have to spell out part of the number (and why would you?), at least use thousand and not thousands. (B) Every style guide I’ve ever seen dictates that numbers that large should be written using numerals, not words.


Fifty-two pickup

This excerpt from Yahoo! Sports would be perfect if fifty-two could just pick up a hyphen:

fifty two spo

All two-part numbers (from twenty-one to ninety-nine) require a hyphen.

Clash of styles

What do you do when you come up against a clash of styles? I’m not talking about wearing Birkenstocks with a prom gown, I’m talking about writing and trying to follow conflicting editorial guidelines. Case in point (or case and point, as one Yahoo! writer would say), this age on the Yahoo! front page:

fp 49 yr old

If you follow Associated Press style, you’d use numerals (not words) for the age of a person. But AP style also recommends not starting a sentence with numerals (except if the numerals are a year). If you write out the age correctly, it would be: Forty-nine-year-old. That’s a lot of hyphens. And it would violate the rule requiring numerals for the age of a person. So that would be: 49-year-old. But numerals can’t go at the beginning of a sentence.

I’m starting to feel a little dizzy.

What to do? Recast the sentence, of course! You’ll get a shorter sentence that’s easier to read without all those hyphens:

Bernard Hopkins, 49, seeks a historic bout…

They’re writers, not mathematicians

Make no mistake: The writers for Yahoo! are not mathematical geniuses. Second-grade arithmetic eludes them. Basic geometry is beyond their understanding. And percentages confuse them. But I would have thought that they could at least count:

13 tech

Endeavour to spell it correctly

In an article about former astronaut Mae Jemison, the Yahoo! Shine writer manages to misspell her name. But that’s not the only word she has trouble spelling:

jemison 1

Jemison served in the Peace Corps (corp is an abbreviation for corporation). She is an African American (which is spelled — this time — sans hyphen). She was a science mission specialist (which doesn’t require capital letters) on the Endeavour (a spelling that is more common in Great Britain than in the U.S.).

Apparently the writer thinks she knows how to spell the name of the shuttle, because she misspelled it again. I guess we shouldn’t expect her to notice a missing word, or to be consistent about writing African American (this time she’s hyphenated it), or realize that astronaut program isn’t a proper noun:

jemison 2

Perhaps that’s the best she can do. Perhaps she brought all her talents to bear and still produced content that would embarrass the editor of a high school newspaper:

jemison 3

So, she doesn’t know when to use bare and when to use bear. No biggie. A lot of people have that problem (especially if they write for Yahoo!). But couldn’t she see the double will? Couldn’t she try to be consistent? (Now astronaut program is devoid of capitals.) The rest of that paragraph is a real mystery to me. Grammatically speaking, she doesn’t seem able to match a verb (which should be exist) with its subject (which is capabilities). And most house styles would recommend that a number greater than nine be written in numerals. But I quibble.

This is not pretty

I’m not responsible for the teeny weeny type or its pale color in these excerpts. I think that it’s a way to discourage you from actually reading the article on Yahoo! Shine. I wish I had taken the hint, because what I discovered was not pretty.

I could never in four score and seven years understand omitting a comma (or two) in “red, white, and blue.” Just like I will never understand why the writer thinks twitter is a common noun. I suppose to some tween-age mind twee-ful makes sense. Maybe I don’t get it because I am old.

Sections of the flag code are numbered with real numbers, not spelled-out numbers. And “Eek!” is what a cartoon character says when she sees a mouse. Maybe the writer is trying to eke out a little attention with her creative use of the language:

Again with the dropped commas? Why?

The man’s name is William Moulton Marston, not this:

Wonder Woman carried the Lasso of Truth. I figured that out on my own. But I don’t know what the rest of the sentence is supposed to mean:

Does anyone really confuse Wonder Woman’s costume with a swimsuit? I guess the writer thinks that’s what Wonder Women wears to the beach, and she changes to her real Wonder Woman costume in a cabana. (The other not-so-pretty things in this paragraph are a relatively minor goof of a missing word and a wrong word, which I can only hope is a typo.)

This writer needs to learn something about punctuation. A hyphen is no substitute for a dash. A hyphen joins words; a dash separates them. And random commas don’t help your readers; they just frustrate them. And I really don’t know what to say about triangular fabric that has opportunity.

The rest of the article consists of photos and their captions, which for some reason are actually readable, though the literary quality is not an improvement. We really shouldn’t be subjected to an all-American error on Independence Day:

I’m pretty sure the word video is not part of the video’s title and that the writer published this article before it was ready:

And finally, a gaffe à la Yahoo!:

I should have stopped reading

After reading the very first sentence of the very first paragraph, I should have stopped reading the article on Yahoo! Shine:

But I felt compelled to read on in hopes that by reading the article I’d learn something about a writer who is so careless or ignorant that she’d make a mistake like that.

Maybe the writer was from Mars. Nah. If she were, she’d know how to spell the name of the planet. As an earthling, she should have learned how to write numbers. Most style guides insist that numbers greater than nine (or ten), should be communicated using numerals:

Maybe she really is from another planet. She’s obviously having trouble with numbers again. She doesn’t realize that two is more than one, and that the apostrophe belongs after the S to indicate the plural researchers:

I’m pretty sure that here on Earth, all fire is bacteria-resistant:

That ’80s reference needs an apostrophe to denote missing numerals. Two dudes? OK, she’s definitely from another nonluminous celestial body. The two researchers she’s trying to write about are one man and one woman.

Did I learn anything more about this writer? Nope. She produces really sloppy writer. Does the reason really matter?

A 32-story high-rise has 32 stories

The editor of the Yahoo! front page should remove the hyphen from “32-stories” and put it where it belongs — in “high-rise.”


Serving up a frosty mistreatment

Soft-serve dessert like frozen yogurt is the topic of this blog from Yahoo! Shine

Purveyors of the frosty treat Pinkberry and Tasti D-Lite (which is missing a hyphen and a capital letter) get really cool-looking italics as if they were book titles. The creativity continues with totally arbitrary punctuation — the comma after silly is wrong, as is the period after ladies:

Oh, and please put a comma after oh in this sentence:

I’m not sure why the number 20 is spelled out, and I’m confused by the self-serve reference. Is that a way to help yourself to soft-serve yogurt? And there’s some funny business in the sentence that follows it. Trust me, I know.

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