Feb 9, 2010

Apostrophes redux

So, Chris and I were watching the Super Bowl on some channel out of Vermont, and they kept sneaking in these ads for Jay Peak. For the non north-easterners, that's a place where one goes skiing. Not me...my tendency to always brake when going more than 5 mph on any mode of transportation has proved prohibitive for effective skiing. But other people ski there.

The new motto for Jay Peak, it seems, is "Raise 'em Jay." A perfectly good motto (not logo, folks! Motto), but there's one problem, which will be apparent to anyone who read this post and has a look at the motto as it appears in the above screen capture.

The Chicago Manual of Style, as usual, says it best: (CMS 7.31) "Since some word processors automatically change an apostrophe at the beginning of a word to an opening single quotation mark, caution is needed; a code in angle brackets can be added, or it may be possible to fool the system either by typing a letter before the apostrophe and then deleting the letter or by some other means."

So Chicago style officially condones doing ridiculous workarounds because Microsoft is evil.

It's always kind of amazing when companies spend as much as they spend on their publicity, and then don't bother to have somebody with some sort of writing skills look at their copy before they slap it on huge media campaigns. Chris insists that graphic designers aren't English majors and can hardly be expected to know the difference between an apostrophe and a single opening quotation mark...

...which brings us around to the eternal point: Yes, you need an editor. A great big company with snazzy TV ads needs a proofreader for its 2.5-word motto, which means it's highly likely (and no source of shame) that you could use one for your 100,000-word book.

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