Monday, April 7, 2014

How do you hyphenate 'Arsenal'?

So, I am an "old school" retired journalist -- and I'm proud of it. Let me share three things I learnt long ago but which I now see being so often disregarded:

The English football club Arsenal

We were told never ever to allow a "line break" in the text like this (TODAY, April 7):

If necessary, we had to rewrite the offending part (or adjust -- kern -- the spacing between characters) so that "Arsenal" remained intact within the text line. Where unavoidable, "Ar-" "senal" was acceptable, as seen in this effort by ST (April 7):

Incidentally, "(school) tuckshop" was disallowed; "(school) canteen" was the choice. This was because, in the pre-computerised ribbon-spool typewriter era, sub-editors would be using their pens to change reporters' copy. Imagine someone with bad handwriting inserting "tuckshop" into the copy -- which then goes to the typesetters (many of whom had primary school-level education). What if a typesetter were to innocently mistake an "f" for a "t"?

The widow line

Ideally, a sentence that starts at the bottom of a column of text and runs over into a new column should not end abruptly in the first line of that new column. It would sit awkwardly; incomplete, so to speak. Such a forlorn looking line is the "widow line".

Granted, it is harder with today's computerised typesetting to tweak the text -- especially where the article is a long one that runs into several columns and/or where fancy layout is involved -- but it is still necessary to look out for widow lines and to fix them where possible. Certainly, this example below is totally unacceptable and everyone who had let it through ought to have been read the riot act:

Never begin a sentence (in a text column) with Roman numerals!
(Spell them out)

This is such a hallowed newspaper practice that I am surprised even senior journalists today seem unaware of it:

Here're another two examples, from TODAY and from an ST commentary article:

It is, however, perfectly fine to begin a headline or a sub-heading with numerals:


The Crimea Aftershock

Let's move on to international politics. When Russia annexed Crimea, I had asked: How did China respond? How would Asia-Pacific countries assess China's response? One Japanese writer had this to say:

One other crucial question is: Post-Crimea, how would the United States assure its nervous allies in the Asia-Pacific? Everyone is keenly watching US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel's trip to Asia:


Finally, isn't there a saying?...

A Fool And His Money Are Soon Parted

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