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Apr 19 / King Kaufman

Spell it right: Even when you’re not in doubt, look up names

Mike Krzyzewski

"No, it doesn't start with S-H. Next."

Here are a couple of names I’ve seen misspelled in Bleacher Report stories recently:

Mike Krzyzewski
Esera Tuaolo

You know what those two men have in common? Maybe not much, except this: No one should ever misspell their names. That’s because their names are hard to remember how to spell. So if you use the name Mike Krzyzewski in a story, and your name is not Krzyzewski, you should look up how to spell Krzyzewski. Even if you think you know how to spell Krzyzewski.

I never spell Krzyzewski myself. I copy and paste it from a Google search. Every time. I’ve just done it six times.

If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to get readers not to trust you, misspell a name. It’s an instant credibility crusher. If a writer can’t be bothered to spell a subject’s name correctly, why should a reader take seriously what that writer has to say about that subject?

I asked Bleacher Report’s copy editors what names they’ve seen misspelled in copy recently that writers really should have gotten right, because they should have looked up the names:

Ben Roethlisberger
Manny Pacquiao
Jarrod Saltalamacchia
Joakim Noah
Prince Amukamara
Marcell Dareus
Amar’e Stoudemire
A.J. Pierzynski
Mark Teixeira

And then there’s probably the most famous athlete whose name gets misspelled most commonly: Dwyane Wade.

You don’t have to look up every single name. If you want to trust yourself to spell, say, Kobe Bryant correctly, fine. Feel free to go it alone on the name John Wall. But if there’s any possibility you might misspell it, look it up. It just takes a second to plug the name into a search engine. Google will correct it for you.

For years I prided myself on the unmarketable skill of somehow knowing how to spell baseball player Mark Grudzielanek’s name without looking it up. It’s the “e” in the middle that’s tricky. Sorta feels like it should be an “a.” But you know what? I always copied it and pasted it anyway, including just now.

We should all remember the words of the great entertainer George M. Cohen—Jimmy Cagney played him in the classic movie “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” He said, “I don’t care what you say about me, as long as you say something about me, and as long as you spell my name right.”

I just wanted to see if you were paying attention. His name was George M. Cohan.

  • Tim Coughlin

    Thanks for posting this, King <3

  • Stan Meihaus

    I’m a newbie writer, can someone explain the copy editing process to me? I have several problems:

    1) I can’t see the changes the copy editor has made. I see his comments (“great read, just changed a few words,) but when I click “Show Changes” I get nothing. I am using a MacBook but writing in MS Word.

    2) After I say “looks good to me” to the copy editor, what happens? Does it go straight to a page? Or does it still have to be approved elsewhere before it is published?

    3) If I come back into the editing process, say I found a typo or want to tweak the headline, does a copy editor review it before it can go back to the page? Or does it go straight back to where it came from? And how long does that process take?

    Stan Meihaus

    • Anonymous

      Welcome aboard, Stan. Hopefully these answers help you familiarize yourself with the B/R editing process:

      1) When you’re on the “View History” page, as long as the particular revision you’re looking at shows more than zero words changed, you can view the changes made by checking the “Show Changes” box and clicking “Show this Revision.”

      On a side note, our current version of “Show Changes” is a bit tricky because it captures all changes made, even adjustments to formatting. As a result, it’s sometimes difficult to decipher exactly what changes were made to a particular revision. Our developers are aware of this issue and we expect a more user-friendly “Show Changes” functionality in the future.

      2) All articles published on B/R receive an edit from our team of copy editors, and just like your article publishes immediately once you click “Publish Article” on your Writer Dashboard, a copy editor’s edits take effect immediately once he/she saves them. Accordingly, it’s not necessary to approve an edit.

      If you have any questions related to a specific edit made, your best bet is to send the copy editor a private message via his/her user profile page, since they won’t always notice your Editor Feedback response.

      3) Content you modify after a copy edit generally does not receive another edit, so you’ll want to be extra careful when making additional tweaks. Ideally, there shouldn’t be much of a need to.

      Additionally, keep in mind that certain edits made by copy editors are made with the goal of increasing the visibility of your content in search engine results, etc. Changing these edits could result in fewer eyes on your writing. Other common edits include revising syntax for clarity and minor factual revisions, again made with the goal of enhancing your work.

      If you have further questions, I encourage you to review the FAQ page in our Community Forum:

      Dan Bonato
      Copy Chief

      • Stan Meihaus

        Thanks a lot Dan, very helpful. One other question: I seem to be losing captions on slideshows. I’ll write something underneath the picture, when I am cropping the photo, and it doesn’t show up later. Any ideas? Are there some rules somewhere that I need to follow about captions?

  • Kelly

    To be fair Dwyane Wade (copied and pasted it) spells his name wrong. :)

  • kellene cain

    looking how to spell “de-awanna (phonic spelling)