Daily Express, July 11, 2017

There seems to be a belief in some quarters that a question mark is not necessary on a question. This belief is quite wrong. All you need to do here is:

What midlife crisis?
t’s fab
to be



The Times, July 15, 2017

Regular readers will know of Giles Coren’s contempt for subs – see Post 79. This is a shame, since he needs help (see also Posts 95 and 74). This time he has tried to show off by using a long word, but it’s the wrong one. ‘Effulgent’ means ‘shining’, ‘brilliant’ or ‘radiant’, in the sense of a facial expression or personality, as in ‘he turned to see his bride with an effulgent beam’. I’m not sure what he meant to put, but ‘over-long’ would have served. Giles, here’s a tip: if you are not sure what a word means, look it up. It will save you from looking a fool.


The Times, July 14, 2017

A sub should always be alert to double meanings. Often they are smutty, but in this case it can be read as the doctors sending the death threats, not receiving them. This is better:

Death threats to Charlie Gard’s doctors

which is the same number of characters.


The Times, July 14, 2017

Is the Times aimed at adults or five-year-olds? It’s hard to tell from this idiotic intro.

As ever, the story is perfectly good on its own. Delete the first sentence and with minimal changes you get

An elephant which was swept ten miles out to sea has been rescued in a 12-hour operation involving the Sri Lankan army, navy and government officials.

The animal is thought to have trying to navigate a shallow coastal lagoon when it was caught in strong currents and carried out into open water.

Note that this removes the word ‘before’ which appears not only in the headline but in the intro and second par. If you tell the story in logical order it is usually unnecessary. The same applies to ‘after’.





The Times, July 13, 2017

Q: What has Skegness to do with a story about the possibility of humans living on Titan?

A: Absolutely nothing. It is just another useless attempt at an ‘interesting’ intro.

Here we have a good story, that scientists believe 300million people (a figure left to the last par) could live on Titan. Why mess it up like this? What must Times readers think of this wretched guff?

I think the intro should be

Saturn’s moon Titan has the energy sources to support a human population of 300million, say scientists.

The story needs to say how far Titan is from Earth (varies between 745million miles and 1,025million miles) and how long it would take to get there (probably up to six years).

And what about the heading? ‘Over the moon’?! Honestly. Apart from anything else, according to the story the scientists do not think it will happen, so how can they be excited about it?

I suggest

The frozen moon that could be home to 300million of us



The Times, July 13, 2017

This is the front page puff for Deborah Ross’s weekly column. So you turn to it . . .

The Times, July 13, 2017

. . . and find that Ross is making mock of the phrase ‘high quality person’, not claiming it for her own son. If I were her, I would be cross. The least a sub (or executive) can do is to pay a columnist the courtesy of reading his or her copy.



i newspaper, July 12, 2017

I simply cannot understand what, if anything, goes through the mind of someone who can let this story go without asking what aircraft the flight now operates. The answer, discovered in a few seconds fr0m the flight’s website, is six Spitfires, two Hurricanes, a Lancaster and a C47 Dakota. Yes, that would take a few extra lines, but there is a huge picture beside it showing not very much, so crop it a bit. There is no law saying that the story has to be that width.


PS No comma is needed after ‘yesterday’ in the first par.


Daily Express, July 10, 2017

  1. ‘The likes of’ is a slangy phrase and in this case (as usual) it is unnecessary. What is like the Taj Mahal? Simply delete it.
  2. Surely an honour is by definition prestigious? I would say ‘achieve’ rather than ‘receive’.
  3. What application? You can’t introduce this without explaining it straight away. Several paragraphs further down it turns out that the Government submits bids to Unesco.