Now appearing Knightley

How bad is it when a professional writer screws up a celebrity’s first and last name? Pretty bad, but not surprising since the misspelling of Keira Knightley appears on Yahoo! Style:

kiera-knightly-sty

It’s not the only misspelling in the article, but what really made this one a standout was the fact that it could have been avoided with about 2 nanoseconds of effort. Oh, with another 2 nanoseconds of Googling, the writer might have learned that as a noun, standout is one word.

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A standout will stand out

Using the wrong word will stand out to readers. That’s what the writer for Yahoo! Makers did with this standout of a misspelling:

standout diy

The noun is standout (one word); the phrasal verb is stand out.

How to make your writing stand out

Your writing will stand out if you can discern the difference between a noun (like standout) and a phrasal verb (like stand out). It would be a true standout on Yahoo! Style, where conventional rules of writing do not apply:

standout style

Covering the sidewalks with canvas and other stupid mistakes

After canvassing this paragraph on Yahoo! Shine, I can only conclude that the writer has no idea where to put a hyphen:

She also doesn’t realize that canvas and canvass are homophones with very different meanings. Canvas is a heavy, coarse cloth; canvass (with an additional S) means to examine carefully or to conduct a poll or survey.

Time to ask for help. Or is it?

Don’t be too embarrassed to ask for help. Even the best journalists need a little assistance from an editor. And you, dear, aren’t the best of journalists. You do need an editor. This article you wrote for Yahoo! Shine really is not good. And I’m just speaking of the grammar, spelling, and punctuation stuff.

Let’s just assume you were out of the room when your third-grade teacher taught the class to put a comma between a city and country. It’s not your fault!

And I’ll overlook the fact that the company you work for doesn’t use a style guide to tell you when to spell out a number and when to use numerals. And your employer doesn’t care about a silly little hyphen in a compound adjective like six-month and doesn’t care if you’re writing about a hotel called Villa or The Villa:

It’s not your fault if you forgot to tell us just what Barton G. Weiss is “the president, owner and founder” of. (Really, who cares?) And the one big standout here, which is a misspelling, is a minor slip:

Pronouns? Pfffft! So you start writing about guests and rather than refer to them with stupid pronouns like their and them, you switch to speaking to the reader. That’s getting personal! Bringing your reader in! An editor would only make this sentence grammatically correct, and who needs that kind of interference?

OK, so here you decide that the hotel is called The Villa, which is the actual name, so you got something right:

And an editor would only mess with your creative use of the comma and your disdain for the hyphen in another compound adjective:

This isn’t a brand-new mistake; in fact, you and other Yahoo! writers are rather fond of it:

Maybe I was wrong. Maybe you don’t need an editor. You’re doing fine. Or at least you’re doing as well as the other writers and editors who work for Yahoo!. Forget I mentioned the whole editor-thing.

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