When headlines split

rule-against-it

This is a good example of how splitting a phrase can make a headline confusing, misleading or even unintelligible.

A court ruled against “it”? Just what is “it”? New York City? The governor appointment?

Look closely, though, and you will see that there’s no “it” here. Rather, there’s “lt.,” short for “lieutenant,” as in “lieutenant governor.” The font’s rendering of a lowercase “l” only adds to the confusion.

This would have been slightly shorter but much more intelligible:

Court rules against

governor appointment

Yes, you could argue that that sounds as if a governor were appointed. I’d argue, though, that the original headline sounded even more like that. This seems better, if imperfect.

The lesson: If you feel like doing the splits, find a gymnastics class. Splitting headlines only leads to confusion.

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