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Every day is Halloween when I see all-too-common mistakes in business writing: the overuse and abuse of quotation marks and capitalization (or the double-whammy combo of both in a sentence!) for emphasis or importance on this example—my e-newsletter subscription from a clean food blogger:

The Thyroid Expert









I’m sure that she doesn’t mean to put her friend down, but she’s unintentionally mocking her! (Wave your air quotes like you just don’t care!) Unless you want to point out irony, sarcasm, doubt, nonstandard terms, or words with a special sense, lose the quotation marks. Oh, and go easy on the caps, too. A capitalized title comes before—not after—a person’s name, and in this case, being a thyroid expert, while certainly impressive, isn’t exactly titleworthy.

Had the blogger listed her friend’s name as Izabella “The Thyroid Expert” Wentz, it would’ve been correct, and that’s only if the name in quotation marks were her actual nickname. Nicknames, which are substitutes for real names, are considered proper nouns, so they are capitalized. The convention is to insert nicknames with quotation marks between first and last names. Famous examples: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Jesse “The Body” Ventura. (As everyone knows, Jesse Ventura isn’t the ex-wrestler/ex-governor’s birth name, but that’s beside the point.)

Although the blogger’s products seem to be of quality, I hesitate to buy them because of her copy. The above example is one of the error-ridden, textspeak-esque e-newsletters that I’ve been receiving from her. It would behoove her to outsource her newsletters and her better-but-not-quite-there web copy to a professional editor or proofreader.

Writing mistakes undermine a business owner’s credibility. Professionalism comes to a screeching halt the minute one uses elements of textspeak (including “creative” bending of punctuation rules) to appear friendly and hip. Textspeak is fine and dandy when you’re communicating with your friends and family, but it’s out of place professionally. I’m not saying that your business copy should be stuffy, but err on the conservative side of caution when it comes to mechanics. Feel free to turn the pages of tabloids and teen magazines into your crib sheets on writing casual yet clean copy.

P.S. For more kicks and giggles, get a load of this collection of gags featuring those lovely quotation marks!

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