i newspaper, August 17, 2018

Another requirement of a headline is that it is in intelligible English, which this is not.

This is the reference in the copy:

So the heading could have been ‘triumphs over principle’. If this was a bit tight, it could have been ‘trumps principle’ or ‘wins over principle’. The one thing you can’t do is arbitrarily dump a word because it doesn’t fit.



Male cyclist in his 60s dies after being hit by lorry on busy London street – as millions of Britain’s are urged to pedal to office on Cycle to Work Day

Mail Online, August 15, 2018

I really try to avoid Mail Online but sometimes . . .

There is a person in the Mail Online office in Kensington who really believes that ‘Briton’ is spelled ‘Britain’ and moreover that if you have a plural noun you put an apostrophe in it.


i newspaper, August 11, 2018

By tradition ships are female, though the shipping industry newspaper Lloyd’s List decided in 2002 to call all vessels ‘it’. So a publication may decide which way to go. The one thing you can’t do is to use both terminologies in one story. This makes me wonder how much brain power it takes to remember for a  whole seven words that you have used the feminine. Another tradition ignored here is to put a full stop at the end of a story.


i newspaper front page, August 10, 2018

A principle of writing headlines is that they should bear some relevance  to the story. If you simply put anything you think might pull in the readers, the Times Law Report could be headed ‘Elvis found on Mars’. This idea seems to have eluded the clever people at the i newspaper. Not only does the banner ‘May goes in for the kill’ have nothing apparent to to do with any of the sub-decks, it is nothing to do with the story to which it refers on Page 6. Here is the only reference to Mrs May on the whole page:

‘Echoing a call’ is hardly going into meltdown. As an aside, who are the  two women pictured on Page 1? We will never know.

‘Amateur night’ is being kind.



And Mr Johnson is facing another political storm after a parliamentary watchdog wrote to wrap him for breaking rules by taking up the £275,000-a-year job as a Daily Telegraph columnist.

Mail Online, August 10, 2018

No comment.


i newspaper, August 6, 2018

(15 words) We know these are not frogs or hippos, so it is not necessary to point out that the picture is of ‘people’. It is lazy. There is almost always a better way. How about:

Switzerland’s Lake Lucerne turns into a colourful sea of floating sunbathers as temperatures hit xC (15 words)

i newspaper, August 6, 2018

I would have thought it was a slip in editing to put ‘NHS England said:’ at the beginning of a quote, then ‘a spokesman said’ at the end. But the same error twice in two paragraphs suggests that someone at the ‘i’ thinks this is a correct formula. It is not. You put ‘said’ at the beginning of a quote, sometimes partway through, eg ‘In fact,’ he said, ‘this is stupid’, or at the end. Not twice.





The Times letters, July 31, 2018

Whether the letter writer got it right or wrong, this should be ‘forebear’. From Style Matters:

fore/for: The prefix ‘fore’ means ‘ahead of’ or ‘in front of’. It might be helpful to remember that golfers shout ‘Fore’ when striking a ball. Thus ‘forebear’ means an ancestor. The prefix ‘for’ may indicate prohibition or abstention, thus ‘forbear’ means to abstain, as in ‘he forbore to comment’. Similarly, ‘forego’ means to go in front of, while ‘forgo’ means to do without.


The Times, July 25, 2018

Here is one of those absurd captions that come up with amusing regularity. You can rule out the two ladies as being Lord Wade, and you can assume that Times readers can identify the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, so you don’t need to point out that Lord Wade is the remaining figure. The smallest amount of thought would have made this obvious.


Leighanne added: ‘I asked if they could move him temporarily into another class so he is away from the people involved but they poo pooed the idea.

Mail Online, July 17, 2018

Sometimes I just can’t resist Mail Online. ‘Poo’, as very nearly everyone knows, is a childish word for excrement. The expression for dismissing an idea is ‘pooh-pooh’.