Archive for April, 2011

What Effect Does Affect Have on a Headline?

Effect and Affect are similar words, with subtly different, importantly different meanings. The way to (almost) always get the right word (any word) is first to understand the meaning of the word you are using, and second, to actually speak it, either out loud or silently. Once you understand the words thoroughly, as long as […]


Headline Spelling Errors – How To Make The Editor Cry

Nothing makes an editor cringe as much as seeing a spelling error in a published headline. In print, there is nothing you can do about it. Online, it used to be that you had a window of opportunity to make a correction, but now, with fast-acting search engines and social media buttons, that window is […]


Apostrophes in Headlines Are Bad

I really don’t like apostrophes in headlines. Recently, a United Nations story came in with two apostrophes in the headline The Headline was: NGOs’ Assistance Vital to United Nations’ Battle Against Drugs I think this is bad because it makes the headline too complex and difficult to read. Simple style is usually better. Editors need […]


Be Careful With Plurals in Headlines

There are two problems in this headline Together as One Combined Security Forces Assists Local Village This is why Del Marbrook suggests you read your headline aloud. I am a word reader, not a skimmer, so these jump out at me. Many people, even editors, skim read. When you skim, you can easily miss errors. […]


Using “On the other hand” in a story

Writing “On the other hand” is a common phrase for many South Asian writers – Indians, Pakistanis and Nepalis use this a lot, but the way they often use it isn’t good English. You can’t say “on the other hand” if you didn’t say “on one hand” and explain something else. In this case, “on […]