Saturday, December 15, 2007

More Atrocious Ads and Articles

Reviewing examples of what not to do helps us spot similar flaws in our own writing. I find examples of egregious or entertaining errors regularly. I read a wide variety of books, magazines, and web sites, both fiction and non-fiction, and am often surprised by the sorts of mistakes that get published.

The following examples are from national magazines, on technical, one a niche topic, and one exceedingly popular. I've included my objections and corrections but welcome input as well. If you have a different (perhaps better) suggestion, let me know.

Example 1
“Government often creates civil liberties concerns any time it proposes combining [these techniques].”
This writer needed to make up her mind whether the government often horrifies its citizens or does so any time they act. Any time includes often, so you can leave out one or the other. “When the government combines these techniques it raises civil liberties concerns.”

Example 2
“Create a shimmering flow of bubbles to oxygenate and circulate any aquarium.”
I'd rather my aquarium stayed on the stand, thank you. Do you suppose the writer meant that the water in my aquarium would be oxygenated and circulated? That sounds much more appealing.

Example 3
“Some people may guard themselves against receiving anything at all: This insulates them from....”
After I recovered my jaw from my lap, I decided that this had been a typo. No one would intentionally follow a colon with a capital letter, would they? Please, lie to me and say, “No.”