Error in an Ezine to 11,192 People

Last week I published my monthly e-newsletter Better Writing at Work and sent it to more than 11,000 subscribers. One of them, proofreader and copyeditor Geoff Pope, found an error in the title of the newsletter and lead article. Can you find it?

"Hot Button Language to Avoid—and Words You Must Include"

I

will

stretch

out

a

space

here

so

you

can

find

the

error

without

seeing

my

correction

below.

Title: "Hot Button Language to Avoid—and Words You Must Include"

Did you find the error?

Do you like your button language hot?

The title needs a hyphen between the words hot and button!

Here is an explanation: I was not writing about "hot language" or "button language." I meant hot-button language. I needed the hyphen to connect the two parts of the compound word.

I know the rule, of course. I just overlooked the phrase.

Sometimes when people write to me, they admit they are nervous about communicating with a business writing expert. They don't want to make an error with me as their reader.

I tell them to relax and imagine how I feel when I make an error in a message to more than 11,000 readers–and in the title, no less.

Geoff, thanks for the correction, which you delivered with humor and style. I won't make that mistake again!

Lynn
Syntax Training

9 COMMENTS

  1. Even without hyphens, compund words in English are not easy. For example, why is “postman” one word, but “post office” is two words? Or why is “data bank” two words, whereas “database” is one word?

    In German, compound words are always written as one word, like the blessed term “Einhandmotorkettensägenführerlehrgangsteil- nahmebestätigung”, which is a “confirmation of participation in a course in operating a one-hand chain saw”).

  2. Oops, sorry about the final closing bracket. Bad proofreading (which for some reason isn’t spelled “proof reading”) on my part.

  3. Hi, Lynn. What a surprise! A friend of mine, Joyce Staples (from Bellevue College), sent me an email about your having acknowledged my little “hot-button” edit. I agree with what Susan Hammond wrote here among the comments: “You are so gracious under fire! Something for us all to learn from.” And guess what Joyce typed as her subject line to me: “Editing Fame”! : )

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