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 SHARP POINTS



How to be a good newbie
Twenty questions, some you must ask and some you really, really should figure out yourself.

A suspect word
When criminals should be called criminals.

Subtitles: Not a foreign language
Take care of your colon.

When answers are e-mailed
Don't change quotes. But there's a "but."

Dot dot dot
No, you shouldn't begin or end quotes with ellipses. But . . .

More on 'a' vs. 'an'
A (Hear that? A!) historical perspective.

The nine commandments of caption writing
Look on while I gesture in happier times.

The manifesto, again
It's e-mail, with a hyphen, and Web site, with a cap and a space.

What are you implying I implied?
Why "10 items or less" checks out just fine.

One headline, a few thoughts
Boy, am I glad I work for a "paper of record."

'Over,' the underdog
I've never done anything "during" a weekend.

One time more . . .
Three times as much is 200 percent more is a threefold increase. Or is it twofold?

Meet the 'homicide bombers'
They're bombers and they kill people? Imagine that!

Remember Zoe, the girl you puked on at the Pink Flamingo Motor Lodge on spring break?
Me neither.

Everything's ranging
What exactly is "from diapers to snow tires"?

Copy editing during wartime
The bigger the story, the less attention to detail we're allowed.

'Tee' is not a one-letter word
Sometimes you have to go to bat against the dictionary.

Stylebook abuse
The stylebook very clearly says "spaceship." So why are all these other words in this story?

Meaninglessness is meaningless
See what I mean?

Cabinet capitals
There is no secretary of Defense.

Quotes, partial and impartial
I'm mad as "hell. And I can't take it anymore."

'Gov. George W. Bush'
I didn't know the United States had a governor.

'A pottery barn look'
It's official: People have lost their ability to distinguish between descriptive words and creative trademarks.

'But FUNKY!!!web!!!DUDES.com is their trademark!'
Tough. We didn't go to grammar school for nothing.

'Log' off
How do you instruct loggers/clickers/surfers to go to a Web site? How about "Go to"?

A talking point
Dot.com equals dot dot com.

Initial reactions and second thoughts
When the abbreviation is much more well known than the actual term, have some alphabet soup.

Not just a figure of speech
While all metaphors are untruths in a strict literal sense, those that jump out and scream "I am a lie!" should be avoided.

Parallel construction also missing
Forgive me if this seems morbid, but it would be nice to read or hear a grammatically correct listing of the victims of the JFK Jr. plane crash.

Split decisions
If you want to really get me steaming, tell me I have to change "to really get" to "really to get." Or "to get really."

'The 5' habits of highly Hollywood people
Outside California, people don't use "the" in front of interstate-highway names.

Millennium bugged
The millennium is coming! (Huh?)

Call it UNINATI
UNSCOM? UNPROFOR? I don't think we can trust an illiterate U.N. with the letter of the law.

The active voice is overrated
Or so it is said by me.

How about that Monica S. Lewinsky scandal?
Thank you, waiter, but I didn't order the alphabet soup.

Clipping penalties
There's Mount Vernon Square and there's Mount Vernon -- the latter can't act as an abbreviation for the former.

Spy vs. Rolling Stone: The Misspelled Celebrity Tote Board
Spy misspelled Jay McInerney, which is sort of like Playboy misspelling breast.

When slang is just plain lazy
Ever eat veggies in your tux while riding with a yellow Lab in a limo in Vegas?

Arbitrary capitalization
Majored in Engineering and mastered Chess? Good for you! Have a Grilled Cheese.

Editors' enemies
Guess? jeans, k.d. lang and the artist formerly known as

Up to a million mathematically challenged reporters . . .
. . . or more!

Come out and say it!
When timid writing becomes ludicrous understatement.

Literally speaking
Don't want it read that way? Don't write it that way.

Walsh says rule not followed
What's wrong with this headline?

"It is I," said the fullback
Correcting quotes makes you look stupid.

Parallel construction
It's difficult, mysterious and puzzles many people.

The the
Are you sure that adjacent word actually belongs to that proper noun?

Dash it all
Do you hire copy editors? Here's a quick weeding-out device.

I'm a member of the media
But I'm not a medium.

My favorite flack
She's fighting the good fight from behind enemy lines.


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