Wednesday, December 06, 2006
To be or not to be

Headlines often omit words that you see in story text: articles such as "a" and "the," and "to be" verbs. The readers fill in the presence of these missing words — at least we hope they do. This technique helps the headline writer, especially in a tight spot where every letter counts. Sometimes you need those words for the headline to make sense, however.

Such is the case here. Web profiles are a new source for police investigations. As it is, the headline's verb could be "profiles," which makes this ambiguous. If a headline can be read two ways, you can be sure that many readers will read it the way you didn't intend. One solution here is to eliminate "new" since most things we write about are new. That would make room for our "to be" verb.
posted by Andy Bechtel at 9:13 AM | Permalink |