Writing and Editing Writing and Editing Writing and Editing Writing and Editing

Oops #1 …

Newspaper headlines not carefully thought through or proofed have provided a hoot for readers for decades. If there is ever anything that should teach us to carefully go over our copy, some of these should do the trick! Enjoy these ohmygoodness headline examples that doubtless pulled readers into the story!

  • Deaf Mute Gets New Hearing In Killing

  • Autos Killing 110 A Day, Let's Resolve To Do Better

  • Blind Woman Gets New Kidney From Dad She Hasn't Seen In Years

  • Cold Wave Linked To Temperatures

  • Dr. Ruth To Talk About Sex With Newspaper Editors

  • Is There A Ring Of Debris Around Uranus?

  • Grandmother Of Eight Makes Hole In One

  • Eye Drops Off Shelf

  • Prostitutes Appeal To Pope

  • Farmer Bill Dies In House

  • House Passes Gas Tax Onto Senate

  • Dealers Will Hear Car Talk At Noon

  • If Strike Isn't Settled Quickly It May Last Awhile

  • Iraqi Head Seeks Arms

  • Man Is Fatally Slain

  • Milk Drinkers Are Turning To Powder

  • Queen Mary Having Bottom Scraped

  • Child's Stool Great For Use In Garden

  • Police Begin Campaign To Run Down Jaywalkers

  • Safety Experts Say School Bus Passengers Should Be Belted

  • Squad Helps Dog Bite Victim

  • Stiff Opposition Expected To Casketless Funeral Plan

  • Death Causes Loneliness, Feeling Of Isolation

  • Semi-Annual After-Christmas Sale

  • The Superstore -- Unequaled In Size, Unmatched In Variety, Unrivaled Inconvenience

  • Two Convicts Evade Noose, Jury Hung

  • NJ Judge To Rule On Nude Beach

  • Two Sisters Reunite After 18 Years At Checkout Counter

  • Miners Refuse To Work After Death

  • Smokers Are Productive, But Death Cuts Efficiency

  • War Dims Hope For Peace

  • Never Withhold Herpes From Loved One

Oops #2 …

One can often find what one is looking for in the classified-advertisement section of the local paper … including some hilarious and sometimes even shocking offerings. Here are some classifieds to which the authors (or, to be fair, perhaps the typesetters or transcribers) should have concentrated a tad more.

  • Dinner Special -- Turkey $2.35; Chicken or Beef $2.25; Children $2.00.

  • Christmas tag-sale. Handmade gifts for the hard-to-find person.

  • Used Cars: Why go elsewhere to be cheated? Come here first!

  • For sale: Antique desk suitable for lady with thick legs and large drawers

  • Get rid of aunts: Zap does the job in 24 hours.

  • Mixing bowl set designed to please a cook with round bottom for efficient beating.

  • Our experienced Mom will care of your child. Fenced yard, meals and smacks included.

  • Wanted: Man to take care of cow that does not smoke or drink.

  • Tired of cleaning yourself? Let me do it.

  • Wanted: 50 girls for stripping machine operators in factory.

  • 3-year-old teacher needed for pre-school. Experience preferred.

  • A superb and inexpensive restaurant. Fine food expertly served by waitresses in appetizing forms.

  • We do not tear your clothing with machinery. We do it carefully by hand.

  • For Rent: 6-room hated apartment.

  • Expert Auto Repair Service. Free pick-up/delivery. Try us once, you'll never go anywhere again.

  • Dog for sale: Eats anything and is fond of children.

  • Wanted: Unmarried girls to pick fresh fruit and produce at night.

  • For Sale: Eight puppies from a German Shepherd and an Alaskan Hussy.

  • Lost: Small apricot poodle. Reward. Neutered. Like one of the family.

  • Great Dames for sale.

  • For Sale: Three canaries of undermined sex.

  • Vacation Special: Have your home exterminated.

  • Four-poster bed, 101 years old. Perfect for antique lover.

  • Girl wanted to assist magician in cutting-off-head illusion. Blue Cross and salary.

  • Have several very old dresses from grandmother in beautiful condition.

  • Illiterate? Write today for free help.

  • Man wanted to work in dynamite factory. Must be willing to travel.

  • Modular Sofas. Only $299. For rest or fore play.

  • Mt. Kilimanjaro, the breathtaking backdrop for the Serena Lodge. Swim in the lovely pool while you drink it all in.

  • Our bikinis are exciting. They are simply the tops.

  • Man, honest. Will take anything.

  • Stock up and save. Limit one.

  • Wanted. Widower with school-age children requires person to assume general housekeeping duties. Must be capable of contributing to growth of family.

  • We will oil your sewing machine and adjust tension in your home for $1.00.

Oops #3 …

Below are a few choice guffaws pulled from newspaper articles.

  • A college friendship that began a year ago ended in matrimony yesterday.

  • The airplane was only a few feet from the ground when it crashed, witnesses said.

  • A purple lady's bicycle was missing from Serendipity Lane recently.

  • On behalf of Mrs. Smith and her family, our sincere thanks go out to those sending flowers, cards and contributing to the death of her husband.

  • Police don't hesitate to use whatever laws, regulations or persuasion they feel they need to control morality in the city and prevent it from getting a foothold.

  • Chairman Billings asked Board members to muster support from parent-teacher groups to support the governor's task force on driving while intoxicated.

  • With the exception of victimless crimes (which need not concern us here), every single crime committed in this nation of ours involves a victim.

Oops #4 …

Here is a cute story that underscores the importance of hitting the right key and checking your work thrice.

A couple from Minneapolis decided to go to Ft. Lauderdale to thaw out during one particularly frigid winter. They made plans to stay at the very same hotel where they had spent their honeymoon 20 years earlier. Because of their respective hectic schedules, it was difficult to coordinate their travel plans. The husband made plans to leave Minnesota and fly to Florida on Thursday, and his wife would fly down the following day.

Smooth journey later, the husband checked into the hotel in sunny South Florida. There was a computer in his room, so he decided to send an email to his wife, who was still in Minneapolis. Finishing the note, he tapped the Send key … not realizing that he had accidentally left out one letter in his wife’s email address.

Meanwhile that day, somewhere in Houston, a widow had just returned home from her husband's funeral. He was a minister of many years who was called Home to Glory following a sudden heart attack. The widow decided to check her email, expecting messages of condolence from relatives and friends.

After reading the first message, she fainted. The widow's son rushed in to the room, found his mother on the floor and saw the computer screen that read:

To: My Loving Wife

Subject: I've Arrived

I know you're surprised to hear from me. They have computers here now and you can send emails to your loved ones. I've just arrived and have been checked in. I see that everything has been prepared for your arrival, tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing you then! Hope your journey is as uneventful as mine was.

Much love.

PS … Sure is hot down here!

Oops #5 …

The following companies perhaps should have done additional word and translation research before launching their products in venues other than the USA. It’s in advertising campaigns as it is in NASCAR -- every lap counts … so think of your audience from their perspective before you launch your branding efforts.

  • Coors turned its catchphrase "Turn It Loose," into Spanish, where it was read as "Suffer From Diarrhea."

  • "It takes a strong man to make a tender chicken," put Frank Perdue's chickens in the mindset of the USA’s consumers. When translated into Spanish, though, "it takes an aroused man to make a chicken affectionate" made for a different sort of message in their misguided marketing push.

  • Remember General Motors’ Nova? Extremely popular for time in the USA, sales stalled when trying to market the Nova in Central and South America. Couldn’t have been because "No va" in Spanish means, "It Doesn't Go".  Nah …

  • When Parker Pen promoted a ball-point pen in Mexico, its ads were supposed to have read, "It won't leak in your pocket and embarrass you." Someone at Parker signed off on the word "embarazar" for embarrass. Well, no. That means “to impregnate,” so the ad read "It won't leak in your pocket and make you pregnant." No word on whether that enhancement helped sales.

  • The Coca-Cola name in China was first read as "Kekoukela" -- depending on the dialect, that translated to either "Bite the Wax Tadpole" or "Female Horse Stuffed with Wax.” Not wanting that goldmine of potential drinkers to opt for other soda refreshments, Coke researched 40,000 characters to find a phonetic equivalent "kokoukole", which translated means "Happiness in the Mouth." Smooth move.

  • When Clairol introduced its "Mist Stick," a curling iron, into Germany, someone on their team neglected to do enough digging -- in German, "mist" is slang for manure. The "Manure Stick" didn’t exactly fly off the shelves.

  • When the Pope visited Miami some years ago, an entrepreneurial T-shirt maker in Miami printed shirts for the large Spanish market in that area promoting the Pope's visit. Instead of "I saw the Pope" (el Papa), the shirts read "I Saw the Potato" (la papa).

  • American Airlines’ desire to advertise its new leather first-class seats to the Mexican market looked good on paper -- in English, at least. Its "Fly In Leather" slogan translated literally meant "Fly Naked" (vuela en cuero) in Spanish. No word about the problem of sticking to the seats.

  • “Got Milk?” rightfully earned ad stripes and high praise for the Dairy Association. They expanded their campaign to Mexico where it was soon brought to their attention that the Spanish translation of their famous query-slogan read "Are You Lactating?"

  • Chinese is obviously a tough translation for the best of the USA’s ad folks. Pepsi's "Come Alive With the Pepsi Generation" translated into "Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back From the Grave" in that venerable language.

  • Scandinavian vacuum manufacturer Electrolux used the following in an American campaign -- "Nothing Sucks like an Electrolux."

  • When Gerber started selling baby food in Africa, their packaging mirrored the successful effort in the USA, featuring the beautiful smiling baby on the box. Gerber reps later learned that in Africa companies routinely put pictures on the labels of what's inside boxes, since many people can't read.

Oops #6 …

The following are legitimate companies that didn't spend quite enough time considering how their on-line names might appear (and be misread) when their URLs were spelled out. Or perhaps they did! Read carefully … and blush.

Oops #7 …

Always consider your audience, your wording and the situation. To wit:

One Sunday morning, the local pastor noticed little Alex staring up at the large plaque that hung in the foyer of the church. It was covered with names, and small American flags were mounted on either side of it. The seven year old had been staring at the plaque for some time, so the pastor walked up, stood beside the boy, put his hand on the young lad’s shoulder and said quietly, “Good morning, Alex.” “Good morning,” replied Alex, still focused on the plaque. “What is this?” Alex asked. The pastor reverently sighed and explained, “Well, son, it's a memorial to all the young men and women who died in the service.” Soberly, they stood together, staring at the large plaque. Little Alex's voice was trembling and barely audible when he asked, “Which service, the 9:45 or the 11:15?”