When people use the term “immaculate conception” incorrectly
In Catholicism, “the immaculate conception” refers to the conception of Mary (the mother of Jesus) without original sin. However, people often confuse this term to describe the “virgin birth” of Jesus, who is said to have been conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit (i.e., no sex!!!!!!). When I see this use on a TV show or in a movie – “Gee, that must have been an immaculate conception!” “I’m annoyed that no one double-checked the meaning.
Call a Saturday Night Live sketch a “sketch”
Listen, I’m not saying that every three to five minute stint on SNL is a work of art (few are), but it’s a sketch, not a skit.
If you didn’t say it in your normal life… you probably shouldn’t write it. —Sarah Schweppe
Rely on Google Docs spell checker
Possibly the most useless tool in a billion-dollar company, Google Docs’ spellcheck feature just doesn’t know what a typo looks like. He thinks “Dominican Republic” and “heretosexual” sound pretty good. And it regularly places a wavy red line under correctly spelled words. He thinks this newsletter should be called Croquettes & Pieces. (Weft!)
Using a possessive in the name of a medium
Brevity is key in headlines, and you’ll often see a story that says something like “Euphoria’s” Sydney Sweeney just caught a prickly pearwhich most copy editors will replace with something like “Euphoria” Actor Sydney Sweeney. But perhaps any reader implicitly understands that the possessive is not part of the formal title; it may be pedantic. Euphoria already has a strained relationship with the apostrophe. For reviewers, this can be a real Sophie’s picks situation.
Determine whether to use italics or roman for the name of a publication
In 2017, we changed Style BuzzFeed to use roman type rather than italic type for the name of each information publication. It was a practical decision, but also a decision we made just to save ourselves a headache. It had become futile to try to differentiate when to use italics from roman: what about media that only exist online? Would you italicize Breitbart or Infowars? Would you do this for Medium as well as its sub-posts? —Emerson Malone
Not only is it absurd to call something “Nipplegate,” but none of these more recent controversies has ever had the seriousness of a sitting president ordering his cronies to rob and spy on his political opponents. (Pizzagate didn’t even happen for real, so that doesn’t count.) I feel like that belittles how important Watergate really was. Call it a scandal, my friends.
Treating “the Internet” as a Monolith
“Taylor Swift posted a new Instagram story, and the internet is freaking out.” did it, really? Sure, I might be glued to social media most of the time, but a tweet or Instagram post that goes viral isn’t the same as saying a majority of people or even a sizable minority care at all from a new photo in a magazine or from an embarrassing celebrity. quote. It’s also usually very white American centric when people frame things that way.
Use “which” when you mean “that”
“Who” introduces a non-essential clause and requires a comma in front.
The word “sorbet”
This asshole almost made me lose my fifth grade spelling bee and I still haven’t forgiven him. —Sydnee Thompson
Winnie the Pooh
Disney smeared us by dropping the hyphens in Winnie-the-Pooh. Pooh might not have pants, but designer AA Milne did give it two hyphens in its name. Then Disney came along and stripped him of his precious hyphens (and no doubt his dignity by still depriving him of pants). This forces us as editors to try to figure out if a writer is referring to Winnie-the-Pooh from the books or Winnie the Pooh from Disney. To quote Pooh: Oh, bother!
Related pet peeves include Paramount’s inexplicable decision to deviate from Elton John’s two-word song “Rocket Man” in the Rocketman film, Herman Melville cutting the title of his book Moby-Dick while the (slightly) eponymous white whale mentioned there is Moby Dick (a pick!), and the chilling original poster advertising the Steve Carell hitmaker as The 40-year-old virgin.