Saturday, February 2, 2008

whaddya mean?

Geek alert: I enjoy grammar books and style books. Strunk & White's The Elements of Style, Lapsing into a Comma, Eats, Shoots, and Leaves, The Associated Press Stylebook, Wired Style. One of my favorites - and most useful in my work - is Microsoft Manual of Style. Punctuation affects meaning:

A smart dog knows its master.
A smart dog knows it's master.

Why, a comma is important.
Why a comma is important.

Woman without her man is nothing.
Woman, without her, man is nothing.

When it comes to casual communication - blogs, e-mails, letters, IMs, etc. - I think typos, misspellings, orthographic errors, run-on sentences can all be overlooked. Not so, though, for professional writing. (There are a couple of things that bug me in casual writing, though: "prolly" for "probably" and the weird use of CaPItaLiZAtiOn that some people use. I don't get that. One that always bugs me in professional writing is using "zip code" instead of "ZIP Code." ZIP is an acronym for Zone Improvement Plan, per the USPS. Acronyms are capitalized.)

If you're selling a product, idea or message, or promoting a brand, the writing should be professional, clear, precise and accurate. It should express the message well and with clarity, without the distraction of errors. It should promote a sense of the brand and communicate the brand's values. And those values shouldn't tell the consumer "I don't pay attention to details."

I have some fave sites that highlight how hilarious some of these professional errors - and the commentary - can be. Hope they give you a light-hearted laugh!
The Slot: Bill Walsh, Copy Chief at The Washington Post, has a wonderful site and blog that I've been reading for years. Always entertaining and educational.
  • Apostrophe Abuse
  • The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks - I feel "safer"
  • lower case L

  • I spotted this headline recently (and immediately sent to my brothers who also share in "wordy" humor):

    Former Deputy Sentenced For Missing Wife's Murder

    Really? I wasn't aware that it was a crime to miss the murder of one's spouse. Duly noted.


    LADY LUXIE said...

    One very annoying practice kids here have is applying "text message" shortcuts into their everyday notetaking and ( eeeeeks to this!!) even essay writing. This saddens and alarms me greatly.

    In fact, just last year when I was screening applicants for an opening we had, I was totally aghast to find one applicant explain in her application letter that she wanted to work for us "coz'" she thinks she will be an asset to the company.

    ( cough'..cough..)
    He! he!

    LADY LUXIE said...

    Oh'....I had to question the "asset" part because part of the job would have been writing lots of reports and written communication with clients.

    TechGoddess said...

    All hail lexicographic geekdom. (As always, thank you for giving me an opportunity to use big words). Dick found a great site that corrected his pronunciation of "litotes", and any discussion of rhetoric is fun.

    I found myself following a van with a confusing bumper sticker in the kid-drop-off line at school right before Christmas:

    “Free North Korean refugees in China”

    Made me think – do the refugees have a high lead content? And would I have to pay shipping?

    Amber said...

    I am the same way, Rose! And the AP Stylebook is my bible for work. Sits right here in my office. That said, I do get busy typing too fast or multitasking and make typos and errors. Then I just CRINGE if I go back and notice them.

    dec0r8or said...

    Ha! And I thought you were so sweeeeet, Rose! I've finally found something your are "snobby" about! Hee! I put "snobby" in quotes, because you're not REALLY Don't even get me started on the whole grammar/punctuation thing. I'm amazed at the illiterate kids who are allowed to graduate from high school these days without a clue as to the difference between "their, they're, and there" or "your and you're." I could go on and on and on and on. Don't get me started. Now I'm tense. Deep breath in....slow All better. ;)

    Rose said...

    Luxie - I have no problem if folks are casual about their "casual" writing, but if you're in an interview, it's a different story!

    techgoddess - great link; thanks! I wonder if you have to actually go to China to pick up your free refugee?

    Amber - AP Stylebook rules! I make errors a'plenty in my blog and e-mails, hopefully none too cringe-worthy!

    Sharon - lol! I think I'm only "snobby" when it comes to business and other professional writing. "their, they're, and there" should always be correct on signs and other business writing ...

    Rose said...

    Hi Rose, Just want you to know that though I rarely leave you a comment I'm here checking in with you all the time. I love reading your blog but I'm always at a loss for words. We are just so different in how we travel through life I suppose. Your kindness is not lost on me though. I've left you some bloggy love at my blog. Stop by when you can. Hugs!