Monday, August 27, 2012

Stating My Case

Spelling mistakes and fact errors are the bane of any good editor, naturally, but another source of aggravation, often overlooked, is inconsistency. Allow me to share an example.

I annually purchase the Sporting News college football yearbook, which I flip through so often during the course of the season the pages are dog-eared by the time the final bowl games are upon us. Not just dog-eared, mind you — big, floppy, Beagle-eared. I refer to the University of Florida's team preview on an almost-daily basis from, oh, August to January, which is why I mark that particular page with a Post-it Flag the day I purchase the yearbook. The page that lists the high school All-Americans is also a regular stop, though it will never earn Post-it Flag status. Whenever one of the first- or second-team All-Americans announces that he's going to play for the Gators, I mark it down in my yearbook, unofficially welcoming the youngster to the Gator Nation. (Yes, I have a sickness!) It's here, on this All-American page, where the inconsistency appears. Take a moment and see if you can spot it.

Each player's position, height, weight, school, city and state are listed. The Sporting News editors settled on listing non-familiar cities by putting their states' abbreviations in parentheses. That works for me. What doesn't work is using that format for every city-state listing but one. Look at the second-to-last listing under OFFENSE. There's something rotten in the state of Georgia. Instead of sticking with the established style, the editors left out the parentheses and inserted a comma. That style works too — it is actually the one I would have chosen — but the two styles don't work together. Pick one ... and stick with it. Is that stating the obvious?

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