or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Pull No Punches

"Pull quote" is a publishing term which means a small piece of text--usually a sentence or a short paragraph, sometimes just a few words--placed into an article in large type. It acts as an element of graphic design--it makes the page look more interesting--and it draws attention to the content of the article.

Sometimes, perhaps usually, the pull quote is reworded slightly. Perhaps it needs a little more punch, or perhaps it's pertinent but too long for the space allotted to it. In this case, someone--rarely if ever the original writer--will have to rework it.

By way of illustration, here are a couple of sentences from this Slate.com article about the public's obsession with knowing how much money movies make:

There was a time when understanding what was going on in the movies required you to study the methods of certain French directors. These days, it feels like you need to study the marketing plans.

And here's the pull quote from the splash page of Salon.com, headed "Line of the Day":

"There was a time when in order to understand the movies you felt like you had to understand the ticks of certain French directors. Now, it feels like you need to understand the finances."

Is it an improvement? Not really. It isn't even significantly shorter, and I think "...when understanding what was going on in the movies required you to..." is better than "in order to understand the movies you had to understand...", which is why the author, Bryan Curtis, wrote it that way in the first place. But what caught my eye, and pissed me off, is the use of the word "tick" when "tic" was called for. That's just stupid. If you're going to rewrite someone else's prose for a pull quote, then you ought to improve it or at least not worsen it, but you had damned well better make sure that any changes you've made are spelled correctly, or else it's the author who looks at first glance like a boob.


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