Tag Archives: headline errors

How to Use Apostrophes With Numbers, Letters, Words


Adding s to pluralize numbers and acronums like 401kA New York Times headline about 401(k) investment options prompted me to review guidelines for using an apostrophe when making plurals of letters and numbers:

Pushing Aside 401(k)’s for Mandatory Savings Plans

A quick search led to a headline on cnn.com about 409(k)s, this one without the apostrophe:

401(k)s: Starting to Invest

There are multiple scenarios that require an apostrophe decision: to add or not to add. Consider these: Continue

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Headline Errors Hurt Writer’s Credibility

Grammar in headlinesI consider writing headlines an art form.

A headline should grab attention and draw in the reader. It also should be an accurate portrayal of what’s to come. Hyperbole — bait and switch, so to speak — can be a turnoff.

You can write your headline at the start, before you pull your content together, using it to keep you on target.

Or you can write your headline as you finish, reflecting on and summarizing your topic in a few words that invite your reader to continue.

A headline is the worst place to misspell a word or make a grammar faux pas. It signals either lack of knowledge or lack of attention to detail. Either hurts your credibility as a writer. Continue

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The Pope In The US: Francis’ or Francis’s visit?

Grammar associated with Pope Francis visit to USAWhat a thrill and honor it was for the United States to host Pope Francis in September on his first visit to this country. He made headlines wherever he went. These two especially caught my eye:

How Much is Pope Francis’s Visit Costing the U.S.?

Pope Francis’ Challenge to America

Which is the grammatically correct way to punctuate a possessive in a name that ends in s such as Francis — or Jesus? Which headline has is right? Continue

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9 Flawed Headlines And How To Make Them Better

Man being threatened by big-footMy list of flawed headlines again has grown. From word misuse such as squash vs. quash and cement vs. concrete; to mismatching a noun, verb and pronoun; to the redundancy lagging behind, this ruthless editor finds multiple grammar lessons.

Today’s rapid news cycle likely is somewhat to blame. “Haste makes waste,” anyone?

Some examples deal with politically charged topics. Please know that they are selected wholly on the basis of form, not content. Continue

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10 Headlines That Teach Grammar Lessons on Grammar Day

Grammar Lessons on Grammar DayHappy Grammar Day! It’s time to acknowledge the importance of picking just the right words and just the right punctuation to clearly communicate your message. If you think “proper” grammar, with all of its rules and guidelines, is a thing of the past, consider this: Happy National Grammar Day! (Yes, grammar still matters)

Here are some headlines with their own grammar lessons:


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Don’t Let Headline Errors Hurt Your Credibility

Headline graphic -Ruthless editor talks about Headline errorsI’ve stated more than once that if a writer is going to make a mistake, a headline is the worst place for that to happen. We skim headlines to decide which stories to further explore, so errors there are seen by more readers than errors within a story.

Here’s a batch of recent headlines that, if I were editing them, would not have appeared in their present form: Continue

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