Mighty Red Pen

September 9, 2011

A proofreader’s call to arms

Filed under: Perilous punctuation — mighty red pen @ 5:07 pm
Tags: ,

H/t to reader Christopher for sharing this little tidbit he spotted on the New Yorker’s website:

The title of the article awkwardly refers to another piece called “A Christian Manifesto.” So what we have here is a possessive tacked on to the end of a quotation mark. As I was saying, awkward, no? At least for print, it is—at first glance, it looked like a typo to me. If I were editing this headline, I’d probably suggest a rewrite—for instance, A Call to Arms in “A Christian Manifesto” (or something like that)—where the possessive could be avoided. It’s a readability issue more than a correctness issue, I think.

My eye also went immediately to the typo in the protest sign in the picture (it’s that old its/it’s problem to which even MRP falls victim). Protest signs seem so prone to errors and other kookiness that it can seem laughable (just Google “protest sign errors” and you’ll see what I mean). Christopher commented, “For some reason protest signs are my favorite place to find language mistakes.  Protesting with a sign seems to represent such confidence; It increases the irony factor when basic errors are overlooked.”

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