Real Talk: Sneaker Names Are a Copy Editor’s Nightmare
FOREWARNING: As a copy editor, it’s officially my role to be an annoying little pedant.
In this work, a job well done means making sure that everything – images, names, phrases, slogans, acronyms, initialisms, commas, colons, semicolons, interrobangs (if that’s the way you choose to live your life) – lands on the page or screen precisely as intended.
As it turns out, achieving that sweet, sweet cohesion in the sneaker world is not always as straightforward as crosschecking the brand’s website or, apparently, even the product itself...
The Thin Line Between Obsession and Compulsion
I’m pretty sure that, at this point, everyone’s sticking a hyphen between ‘GEL’ and ‘LYTE’. So what the hell happened here? And why do I care?
Believe it or not, confirming a shoe name should officially be hyphenated or have periods in the acronym is actually super satisfying. It means you’re that much closer to creating something awash in glorious, unerring harmony.
Most style guides – a vital resource for anyone publishing anything – recommend only including periods in acronyms with more than two letters. Still, it’s not wrong to do so with longer ones if that’s what you prefer.
It is wrong to do both.
Skipping Gaps and Missing the Mark
On September 2, 2017, astronaut Peggy Whitson set the record for the most cumulative days living and working in space.
Meanwhile, it seems adidas have spent precisely zero seconds figuring out how to navigate the chasm (or lack thereof) in their ZX line.
Shifting the blame, let’s say Nike’s Air Bakin’ appears multiple times throughout one publication; every single instance would need to include the apostrophe at the end. Likewise, when silhouettes in a sneaker line are numbered, the numerals used should be either Arabic or Roman – not both.
Why? For starters, when you drop the apostrophe in Bakin’, technically, nobody’s baking shit in the Air. But more importantly, in professional writing and publishing, consistency is everything.
Prefixes, Suffixes and Flummoxes
Perhaps Nike did officially stick ‘ACG’ and ‘SB’ at the end of those respective lines before deciding somewhere along the way, for whatever reason, to join them both up with ‘Nike’.
Assuming the latter is now ‘official’, perhaps they could give us pedants some tips on how to convince OG ’heads? Thx.
Spare a Thought for the Unseen
In many ways, a good copy editor’s work is invisible.
When everything’s where it should be, no one says a thing. Not the readers, the product’s creators, the publisher, or the copy editor’s boss.
But guess who speaks up when something’s out of place?
Those ‘errors’ shunt the copy editor centre stage – chastised for not making the right formatting decision when, in reality, no one actually decided what was right in the first place (or if they did, they didn’t tell anyone else).
While the grievances mentioned above can sometimes turn this satisfying work into more of a nerdlinger’s fever dream, they are, unfortunately, just the tip of the iceberg.
So, brands, creators, please: when you name something, capitalise, punctuate or abbreviate it however the hell you want ... just remember those who wish to write about it.
Be purposeful. Be consistent.
In a mood? Check out some more sneaker-related bugbears.