Category Archives: Scary reads

Safety walk in bathtubs?

Let me start by saying that I don’t know why Gmail is showing me ads for walk-in tubs (maybe it can tell how hobbled I still am from the major hike I did on the weekend?), but good heavens, this ad has a lot of errors crammed in to one small space:

Safety Walk in Bathtubs – – Easy Entry, Low Door, Comfortable Schedule a In-Home Assessment

Questions this raises:
1. Why would I want to take a safety walk among bathtubs?
2. How does a bathtub give me a comfortable schedule?

Here’s the corrected version:

Safety Walk-In Bathtubs – – Easy Entry, Low Door, Comfortable. Schedule an In-Home Assessment

I’d take out most of the capital letters, too, but some people like them.

Commas matter. Really.

I saw a headline on a facebook ad today that made me do a double-take. It said “Stop Renting Girlfriend!” I wondered what kind of service this could possibly be for, then quickly realized that what the ad meant to say was “Stop Renting, Girlfriend!” It was an ad for a condo development. I’m sure they have nothing to do with the girlfriend-renting (or -buying) business.

Ever wonder exactly what editors do?

Vanity Fair has taken a jab at Sarah Palin by setting its editorial staff to work on her resignation speech. The point of the excercise from VF’s perspective, of course, was to further hammer home a point that has been made many times already — the speech had some issues. I’m posting their work here because it provides an excellent picture of what editors do, and how much an editor (or three, in this case) can improve text. So whether you’re a Palin fan or not, if you’ve always wondered what editors do, take a peek at this link. How much could an editor improve your printed materials, scripts, or presentations?

More Signs on Trial

I’ve posted before about the terrible grammar, spelling, and punctuation I’ve seen on signs. The problem does not seem to be going away.

Exhibit 1: The bizarrely specific
On the door of a fast-food joint, a sign read:

“No live animals allowed”

I’m not sure why they felt the need to specify that only “live” animals are banned. Perhaps dead ones are okay?

Exhibit 2: The  wrong conjunction
My father spotted this on the garage door of his condo complex:

“Please ensure the door is closed when you enter”

If the authors of this sign have figured out a way to walk (or drive) through closed doors, the sign makes sense — and they should be marketing their discovery! I suspect, however, that they want residents to make sure they door is closed after they enter.

Exhibit 3: Just plain bad English
My boyfriend caught this one at our local drug store, next to a bottle of hand sanitizer:

“For customers use. It is recommended to sanitize your hands.”

This has three  problems. One: a pretty nasty use of passive voice (“it is recommended”). Two: even if passive voice was appropriate here, it would still be wrong. The correct passive construction would be “it is recommended that you sanitize your hands” (rather than “to”). Three: “For customers use.” That should be “For customers’ use.” But why use three words when one will do? This sign should be rewritten as:

“Customers: Please sanitize your hands” or “Customers: Management recommends that you sanitize your hands”

Have you seen a particularly awful sign? Post your thoughts about it in the comments.

Watch your loaded language

Besides the terrible image quality (my fault — no proper camera nearby), what’s wrong with this ad for a Clarins free gift promotion at Sears?


While it is nice that the promotion allows you to choose one of four different skin-care sets, the phrase “right to choose” is entirely inappropriate here.

Why? It’s loaded language. It’s a phrase that — like it or not — references a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion. That thought will enter the mind of almost every person who reads the ad. Perhaps no one told the ad writers at Sears that abortion isn’t an issue they should allude to in their copy.

I’m all for cheeky word play and clever pop-culture referencing. Done well, it can make an ad for a dull product sparkle. But make sure the cultural reference you make is appropriate, unless you’re specifically trying to stir up controversy.