Tuesday, February 8

Lumpy Headline Found in Hapless Competitor

Looking over the news coverage page at the Managed Funds Association, I see two headlines about the same development:
  1. Trade Groups Join Patent Wars
  2. FIA and MFA Enter TT versus Espeed Fracas

Now, which is the better headline? There's more info in (2), but then again it's got three acronyms and a nominalization (the noun phrase "TT versus Espeed" used adjectivally to modify "fracas") that is so awful your tongue breaks out in blisters when you read it. Or mine does. And "fight" has the same number of letters as "fracas," so why go weird when the simple Anglo-Saxon word is available, not to mention the other options among words denoting conflict. "Wars," for example.

AND they do violence to the company's trademark without normalizing it in a useful or consistent way. See, eSpeed, not Espeed, is how the firm writes it; we use it that way except where it needs an initial cap, in which case it becomes ESpeed. E*TRADE, everyone agrees, is just too much to bear when you're writing about that firm, but futzing around with upper and lower case and no space or hyphen joining elements seems reasonable, it requires no special typography or assaults upon the principles of readability and legibility. After all, we let PricewaterhouseCoopers get away with THAT nonsense, right?

You will have guessed by now that (1) is our headline. It was a front page top right, so it had to be brief and balanced. Notice that it has more or less the same grammatical form as the classic "Headless Body Found in Topless Bar," except that the verb is active, not passive. The lead immediately specifies what trade groups and what patent wars, so I didn't see the need to put the names of the parties in the headline.

Little points of pride that make you feel like you're worth a damn.


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