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Newspaper Headlines Might Need A Comma

September 26, 2021

I have read newspapers since my boyhood days in Hancock, Wisconsin where the first treasure to be found each day was the comic strip Buz Sawyer.

Over the years, I have noted the changes to papers regarding the size, font, and even the placement of color photos on the front page. Newspaper readers, I have found, take their papers seriously and comment on various aspects of the published pages.

As with, in my estimation, the need for commas in some headlines.

The headline above, from the September 26, 2021 edition of The Wisconsin State Journal, screams out for the use of commas.

While commas are not often used in newspaper headlines, they do at times appear. But then when they really do need to be placed in the headline, but are omitted, it makes for an awkward outcome. How much better the following headline looks, and reads with commas.

4th voter, out of 3 million, charged with fraud

I like newspapers that run a tighter editing shop than how the State Journal has, more recently, allowed for stories to be written or as in this case, headlines to be constructed. Economic downturns in the profession have hit everywhere, and so I am mindful of why staff reductions are reflected on the pages.

I also very much grasp the fact that almost no one cares anymore about such fussiness but such things do matter. Newspapers still should set a standard of grammar and punctuation that is instructive to the rest of us.

I would trust that idea never becomes ‘old-fashioned’.

And so it goes.

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