Mt. Vernon Register-News

Big Hall's Notepad

November 2, 2007

Why the erroneous hyphenations in Web copy?

If you've spent time on this site reading our stories, you've undoubtedly at least once happened across a word that was incorrectly hyphenated. An unpublished example: "Dennis said he was sur-prised to learn of the change."

Obviously, surprised is one word and needs no hyphenation.

I will try to explain how this happens in as few words as possible. Reporters log their stories onto their machines in a program called NewsEdit Pro. From there, they save the stories onto our server, in specific folders where they can be accessed by paginators and myself. Once edited, the stories are placed on a page created in QuarkXPress. Quark is used to create all of the pages in the print R-N. Sometimes text doesn't flow well around photos or in narrow columns. Letters of a word might space out to fit a column or skip lines altogether. So we who design the pages force hyphenation of words to make the text flow more freely, or be easier on the eye without overbearing gaps and spacing. This is normally the final step before a page is sent out for final proof.

We copy the stories off of the Quark document - as they are the versions that received all sets of eyes on them and are the final version - onto the Web site. And when the copy fits onto the text area of the Web site manager, the words flow much wider, meaning the words we forced hyphenations on are extended and look like the "sur-prised" usage shown above. We make every attempt to catch all of these, but please forgive us if we don't.

Additionally, as we push to get stories on the Web as soon as we can, we often copy text from e-mail or straight from NewsEdit before they even receive a first round of copy editing. This is to provide news as quickly as possible and editing is done as a story is already published.

I hope this makes sense and thank all of you for your patience as we move forward with our Web site and other adjustments within the Register-News.

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