Helpful Style Guide Tips

December 15, 2010 at 12:45 pm | Posted in Internet Sleuthiness | Leave a comment
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In true obsessed-with-punctuation form, while finishing up a paper today I scoured the internet* to figure out if nation–state should be connected with a hyphen (-) or an en dash (–)**. While searching, I came across the style guide for The Economist:

Scroll down a bit, and you come across this gem of a suggestion:

I can just picture the bored copy editor putting this list together and slipping that one in like an easter egg for those hearty few who are nerdy enough to read through an entire list of hyphenated and not-hyphenated words.

* If you’re interested in the outcome of this search: although I couldn’t find a definitive word in the matter (e.g. no website said, “Hey dude! Everyone knows that nation–state should be connected with a ____!”), I feel pretty confident that my original choice of an en dash was correct, since en dash is used to connect two terms that do not modify each other, such as Smith–Jones Treaty or California–Oregon border. I think nation–state falls in this category, no?

** Of course this would happen in this post: for some reason the en dashes I coded (that is basically the extent of my html knowledge, haha) do not show up on my screen, and are rendered as lame-ass hyphens instead. Hopefully your computer is smarter than mine, so you can get the full effect of my punctuation journey!

[ images from The Economist ]


::Cries Inside::

August 26, 2010 at 4:48 pm | Posted in Internet Sleuthiness | 1 Comment
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No, it’s fine. Punctuation is not really that important, Kate Spade. It’s not like you’re a major national brand or anything, and it’s not like this is the way your official website appears when searched on Google. I mean, what’s the big deal, right?

Is this phenomenon becoming more pervasive, or am I just becoming more paranoid and alert?

[ image from Google ]

Grammar Rant

August 6, 2010 at 8:53 pm | Posted in Internet Sleuthiness | 1 Comment
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Here’s what I want to know: is it really that hard to figure out the rules for when you should and shouldn’t use an -‘s at the end of a word?!?

This is the grammar error which, more than any other, sends me into a fiery rage of incoherent ranting.

A blog I frequent (not to be named) is a particularly egregious offender, throwing apostrophes hither and thither without much thought or consistancy. I’ve mostly been able to ignore it so far—thus allowing myself to control my RAGE—but today, I’ve had it. The headline of today’s post reads:

Blow Outs | Curly Fro’s and Twist Outs

Three plural nouns: two pluralized correctly and one incorrectly. Can anyone explain why anyone, ever, anywhere, at any point in time, in any situation, ever would think it was appropriate to pluralize one word out of three with a different pattern??

I’m serious about this. It is making me consider removing this blog from my Google Reader—that’s how upset it makes me!


June 12, 2010 at 12:15 pm | Posted in Internet Sleuthiness | Leave a comment
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So, here’s my question: What happened between sixteen and three hours ago that resulting in the reduction of three exclamation points?

[ image from Twitter via Jezebel ]

I am becoming my mother.

May 26, 2010 at 7:05 pm | Posted in Internet Sleuthiness, Me | Leave a comment
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We got this ad flyer in the mail at work today, and before I tossed it in the recycling bin, I read the first sentence of copy. And then I read it again. And then I read it a third time, because I was sure I was missing something because there was no way that the sentence I thought I was reading was actually printed on a piece of professional advertising material, because it was so grammatically illogical it made my head hurt. But no, I eventually decided, I was wrong: it was, in fact, that illogical:

As the owner of [your business], you may have already discovered, that it can be overwhelming, and time-consuming trying to find the products and services you need…within your budget and timeline.

Now, I’m a proud advocate of the multi-clausal sentence and the insertion of commas, but damn! How could anyone read—let alone write—that staccato mess and think it made any sense?? There are three commas and one set of ellipses in that sentence. How many does it actually need? I’d go with ONE COMMA. Seriously, ad copy writers, get your shit together! My mom—who spent my childhood getting angry about inappropriate apostrophe use and people saying “less” when they meant “fewer”—and I are OUTRAGED!

The Trouble with Apostrophes

March 14, 2010 at 11:27 am | Posted in Internet Sleuthiness | Leave a comment
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I saw this poster advertising an event on a website earlier today, and immediately this humble sentence jumped out at me:

“Bring your old tee’s and tanks for a Buy Definition screen printed souvenir.”

I mean, I know that the apostrophe can be confusing sometimes—such as the apostrophe in “Joe’s hair” vs. lack of an apostrophe in “its hair”—but come on: CONSISTENCY, PEOPLE! How could anyone think it was correct to include an apostrophe on one plural (“tees”) but not on the other (“tanks”)?!?

So, what’s the trouble with apostrophes? They make people look like idiots.

Wiki Vandalism: A Play in Four Acts

February 17, 2010 at 10:57 pm | Posted in Internet Sleuthiness | Leave a comment
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I noticed something a bit odd when I looked at California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman’s Wikipedia page last week: a sneaky, subtle, nearly-unnoticeable jab at Whitman’s partisan identification: Instead of being listed as Republican, she is a “Republican.”

If you check out the page today (this screenshot was taken on February 9th) you’ll see that her political party is back to normal; like nearly all examples of vandalism on Wikipedia, it was caught and reverted. This is how it all went down:

Step 1: an anonymous user adds the quotations marks.

Step 2: the same user inserts “self-described,” and later decides “claims to be” is more appropriate, and apparently more important than correct grammar: “She is a claims to be a Republican”?

Step 3: a different anonymous user catches “claims to be,” because really, that was a novice move.

Step 4: a third anonymous user removes the quotation marks, and restores the balance in the Wikiverse.

EDIT: I looked a bit more into the kinds of edits this IP address has made in the past, and it seems to be someone hell-bent on changing any mention of the word “fetus” in a Wikipedia article to “unborn baby.” So, there you go.

[ screenshots from Wikipedia ]


February 15, 2010 at 9:26 pm | Posted in Internet Sleuthiness | 1 Comment
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I guess he used so much punctuation in the post’s title that there wasn’t any left over for the post itself!

[ screenshot from Yahoo Answers ]

Sentence Structure Fail II

August 16, 2009 at 10:48 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I was appalled to find six commas in a single sentence the other day, but today I read one with TEN in a New York Times Fashion & Style article about potbellies:

“Hipsters, by nature contrarian, according to Dan Peres, the editor of Details, may be reacting in opposition to a president who is not only, as the press relentlessly reminds us, So Darn Smart, but also hits the gym every morning, has a conspicuously flat belly and, when not rescuing the economy or sparring with Kim Jong-il, shoots hoops.”

Sentence Structure Fail

August 11, 2009 at 2:51 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I’m a gal who digs on long sentences and the requisite punctuation necessary for writing them. I’m talking about sentences that include clauses set off by em-dashes, or a couple of commas, and probably a semi-colon here and there. My predilection towards clause-filled sentences has even gotten so out of hand that it drew comments from my thesis advisor to calm down with the em-dashes, already! Nevertheless, I am appalled, and thoroughtly confused, by this sentence I read in a USA Today article about the success of reality show winners, in reference to Stephanie from “Top Chef”:

“The show’s first female winner, raised in Stamford, Conn., but born in Chicago, is opening a restaurant there, The Drunken Goat, in January.”

 I mean, how much information do you have to cram in one damn sentence?! Count the commas in there: six. Six! I think I read that sentence three times over before truly understanding what the hell the writer was trying to say. Also, I’m still not entirely sure which city “there” is refering to. Let’s rewrite the thing in a comprehensible manner, shall we? 

“Izard, the show’s first female winner, was born in Chicago but raised in Stamford, Conn. In January, she opened her restaurant The Drunken Goat in her hometown.”

How hard was that?! I mean, we have gone from 23 to 27 words—a word limit may account for the twisted syntax—but think about how much we gained in clarity!

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