Tuesday, October 9, 2007

How to improve writing (no. 16 in a series)

I thought the error in the following caption might be the work of my local paper, but no — the Associated Press gets the blame:

These undated handout artist renderings provided by the U.S. Mint shows four of the designs under consideration to replace the "tails" side of the Abraham Lincoln penny.
Yipes: renderings (plural) show (plural). Once the error in subject-verb agreement disappears, the sentence's awkward start and clutter become more obvious: what are "handout artist renderings"? And is it necessary to say that renderings show designs? Much simpler:
Four proposed designs to replace the "tails" side of the Lincoln penny. Source: U.S. Mint.
Note that the revision also manages to sound like a photo caption.

You can find the AP caption, error included, at many online news outlets. Here's the Yahoo News version. At MSNBC, the words "undated handout" are gone.

This post is no. 16 in a very occasional series, "How to improve writing," dedicated to improving stray bits of published prose.
All "How to improve writing" posts (via del.icio.us)

comments: 1

Lee said...

Definitely a good edit! Are you for hire?