Thursday, January 14, 2016

Headlines and prepositions

My friend and very talented designer, Ed Henniger, has a rant up complaining about seeing headlines ending their first lines with prepositions and articles.

This is one of those things that, while once considered a sign of good craft, has become largely a non-issue on most publications.

My note back to Ed:

Sorry, Ed, but it's long ago been declared a nonissue on most desks and at ACES. And readers' panels at ACES through which we tested headlines made clear it was not an issue to them. As one woman pointedly said when questioned rather severely from an audience member: "You really lose sleep over that?"

I remind folks of it as craft the first couple of times, but I don't push it anymore.

Time to declare it a shibboleth and move on.
It's especially true in an era when headlines often have to do double duty in print and online -- where how it is displayed is a function of many things, including window size.

 I know this will be a hard one to swallow in some quarters, but there are far more important things to worry about these days. Nothing we have indicates any reduction in comprehension.

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At 2/25/16, 9:45 AM, Blogger Victoria McNorrill said...

I am a student studying print media. The Communications department at my university is currently changing its publications and transitioning to the Digital Age. The printed newspaper and the yearbook became an online publication and a magazine printed once a semester. As I study old newspaper headlines, I love how they are crafted: revealing enough information to get the reader interested but concise enough to fit on the layout. I think online headlines have lost the craft and succumbed to the laziness of the click-bait. Prepositions in online headlines was not really something I noticed before studying print. In a way, I mourn the lost craft of old newspaper headlines, but I am excited to observe how publications adapt and new "crafts" are created with the Digital Age.


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