Jul 11

Dear New York Times: loosen up those i-rules

Okay, this has been bugging me for a good ten years now, and I’m finally going to let it out.

It may not be important in the scope of things, but hey, I’m a writer. Grammar and punctuation count.

Listen up, New York Times. It’s time to get off your high horse and spell like the rest of us. Look at the headline you wrote for the article above and tell me if you see anything wrong.

Obviously, your official style guide demands that the first letter of the first word in a headline be capitalized. Admirable.

But when the first word of your headline is iPhone, iPad, iPod or any other i-device — it’s really okay to break the rule. It’s a product name. This capital-I thing is making you look kinda silly.

I’m guessing that your style guide doesn’t require you to capitalize the second letter of a word. So why the capital P after the capital I? Oh, I get it. That’s how Apple spells the product name.

So it’s okay to respect the P, but not that lowly little i? I see the game you play.

I promise that if you write iPhone the way it’s supposed to be written, wherever it appears in a sentence, it won’t set off a tsunami of grammatical lawlessness. I like a good style guide as much as the next guy, but honestly — these things aren’t carved in stone.

Then again, the spelling of iPhone may be the least of your worries. If you Google the above headline today, you’ll find an article with the same date and same author — and virtually the opposite headline. Up in the title bar, it still says iPhone Bolsters Verizon Results. But the article itself has been retitled Verizon’s Bet on iPhones Brings a Slow Return. Rather an extreme turnaround, isn’t it? (Oh, and in the title bar you actually did spell iPhone properly.)

So I guess you do believe in revising things when you get them wrong. Or wildly wrong, as happened with this Verizon story.

Maybe there’s hope yet for that outdated style guide…

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