19 June 2006

Ugly, poorly-edited reports make me sad.

I've been reading these reports from a client to get some background on their organization, the issues they're dealing with and the area they serve. Oh dear, schweet Jeebus. These documents are so ugly. Why do you hate white space? What did it ever do to you?

The reports have pixelated photos, pages with three to four different fonts, unnecessary graphics, too-dark background images, too-thin paper ... They are so difficult to read and follow. The design is an affront to all that is lovely in this world.

When I manage to wade through the graphic design nightmare to read the text, things don't get a whole lot better. The reports are full of unnecessary quotation marks, random hyphenation, rampant passive voice and my favorite: using "over" to convey a greater quantity. The word "over" implies a spatial relationship. When you're talking about a greater quantity, you should be using "more than." This was one thing in particular I learned from my editors at the Daily that has really stuck with me in the intervening years.

I feel bad being a Grammar/Spelling/General Writing Nazi, but I just can't help it. I go through life with a mental red pen and I'm constantly editing things that I read. Now, there are plenty of times I can let things slide. I don't do it personally, but I can overlook typos or missing punctuation from people with no problems. You get a pass if I like you. It's kind of like people who meet me as Jessica and automatically shorten it to Jess or Jessie without asking. If you rub me the wrong way, you'll get "My name is Jessica." But if you seem cool, I welcome the familiarization.

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