Sunday, January 11, 2009

Poor Examples from Some Pros

In perusing the back of a cereal box, the other day, I realized that I hadn't posted bad examples for writers in some time. Thus, I'll share the errors I've recently noted in articles and other commercial writing of late. We'll start with that cereal box, upon which it was made clear to me that punctuation lies outside of the capabilities of the design and copy writing folks at Post. It read as follows:

So enjoy
delicious fiber
rich whole grain
Post [product]...
The text was wrapped around a picture, but still could have been saved with a hyphen, a comma, and more judicious placement of line breaks. As printed, it looks like a list of things to enjoy rather than a recommendation of their product.

There are sites dedicated for the soul purpose of chatting.
Note that this was not an article about religious bulletin board sites. I post this for the sole reason of reminding people that a difference exists between the words.
…leaving $.36 to be split evenly between [our site] and the user who is "recompensated" for the download. The system determines which user to recompensate based on things such as…
This came from the explanation of an affiliate program. One would think that putting the word “recompensated” in quotation marks in the first sentence would have been a clue that it wasn't a real word and should have been treated similarly in the second. The “author” would have done better simply using the word compensate.

Updated January 16, 2009 to include this gem from an Associated Press article:
Police divers were using sonar to find the engines, which was believed to be in the water.
One would think that the police divers would know where the sonar device lay, as they were using it.

I post these examples for two reasons: to point out that even professional copy writers make errors and to remind you to proofread not only for language but for layout. In many cases, a writer has little or no control over how their work appears, but using proper punctuation and language can ensure that those who do the layouts understand what you've written and keep words like fiber-rich together, where they belong.