Monday, October 18, 2010

Perfectly Good Headlines

Sometimes, there's nothing wrong with a headline's grammar or spelling, but it still doesn't read very well. Here are a few recent examples.

This Star Tribune front-page teaser suffers from too-tight word spacing and being set in all caps, which together impair meaning when an acronym like FDA precedes a capitalized word like OKs. The tight word spacing makes it look a bit like FDAOKS, whatever that might mean. (FYI, the amount of word spacing should be equivalent to the letter I in the same typeface, so in this case the space should be almost 50 percent larger.)

Shooter Who Saw Clowns Gets Probation headline
There's absolutely nothing wrong with this Pioneer Press headline. A schizophrenic who hallucinated a clown attack got probation for shooting a gun inside a home. I hate to laugh at such a sad situation. At least no one was injured.

30-Ton Boulder Honors Slain Maplewood Cop
Which was not the case in this PiPress story, which tells how a slain police officer is being honored with a large stone marker, near where he was killed. But doesn't this headline make the boulder sound like a participant rather than an inanimate object?

Silicon Valley enlists Steve Jobs' wife, Elvis Costello in Prop 23 fight
In this case, the Huffington Post headline writers tried to use that old editors' trick of substituting a comma when an "and" is actually indicated, and inadvertently made it sound like Elvis Costello is Steve Jobs' wife.

Yes, yes, I know there would have to be another comma after Costello for the headline to truly read that way, but didn't it mislead you in that direction until the last minute? And does the average reader really understand that comma-instead-of-and rule in the first place?

1 comment:

Crystal said...

I'm not convinced that the average reader knows that commas belong *after* appositives in addition to before. I sure don't see many of them anymore (much to my chagrin).