10 things I don’t like to see in print

February 4, 2014 § 1 Comment

Being a wordsmith it’s hard to read anything – and I mean ANYTHING, including a personal text message – without editing/proofing and trying to perfect it. I wonder if accountants add up stuff when they’re not ‘on duty’ – if you know what I mean? Anyway, here are 10 howlers I don’t like to see in print and always edit:

  1. The word ‘thing’. There’s always a better one – ‘thing’ is lazy and it’s the sort of word a six-year-old would use because they know no better. Adults should. (’10 howlers I don’t want to see in print’ – before you mention the headline, I did it on purpose.)
  2. Exclamation marks. They’re so over-used and look like excited full-stops. Perhaps it’s the overuse of them I really object to.
  3. Smiley faces and other emoticons. Just why? They look like something out of a comic.
  4. Text speak – even in texts it looks ridiculous. It takes hardly any longer to write the message properly and a message written properly carries a million times more weight and style.
  5. Apostrophes wrongly forced into plurals: 1960’s; fair do’s; loo’s. People seem to go loopy, particularly if a word ends in a vowel or a 0.
  6. Americanisms in British copy – gettoutahere. I don’t want to receive emails that start ‘Hey Julie’.
  7. The misuse of ie. and eg. Much of the stuff on this list is a matter of my taste. This one is hard fact, though, because ie. means: that is or in other words and eg. means: for example. They are simply not interchangeable.
  8. SENTENCES WRITTEN IN CAPS BECAUSE THE WRITER THINKS THE CONTENT IS SO VERY VERY IMPORTANT. Actually I tend not to read huge blocks of capped-up text so the writer’s ploy backfires on me. It looks as if the reader is being shouted at.
  9. Posh talk – laboured copy that isn’t written in a natural language but says ‘achieve’ when it means ‘get’ and ‘do not’ when it means ‘don’t’, for example. I write by the rule that if we don’t say it that way, we shouldn’t write it that way.
  10. Over and less. ‘Over’ is a position (over the hill/over the knee). When you’re talking plurals, it’s more than £5/more than five people. ‘Less’ is a quantifier for singular nouns (less time/less speed). Go plural and you need to use fewer than five items.

I could go on but the headline says 10 and it would drive me mad if the writer couldn’t be consistent with the number she’d set herself in the text, so I’m going to have to stop here.

§ One Response to 10 things I don’t like to see in print

  • Stuart says:

    Hey Julie,


    Their must be load’s of other things you cld hve included. I can think of over 10 off the top of my head. i.e. starting sentences with a conjunctive. And its been this way since the 70’s at least. Less people right proper every year.

    Still, good to see theirs someone out there who cares.


    (Wot, no smileys?)

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