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Five rules I'm not losing sleep over: #2 Question headlines

I tried to rock the copy editing world yesterday by declaring my undying appreciation to the Associated Press for spiking the distinction between "more than" and "over."

That was No. 1 on my list of things I'm not losing sleep over that we, as copy editors, have traditionally sweated bullets over.

Here's No. 2:

Question mark headlines

Question marks in headlines don't cause a single blip in my radar. I don't care even when the story doesn't answer the question in a story.

Question headlines can be a way of reflecting what readers are thinking. They can set the exploratory tone of a story. They can depict debate. And, yes, they can make you click on a story to find out the answer ... "Are you a lazy copy editor? Or a purist?" would likely get a decent number of clicks on copydesk.org.

Of course, you can overdo it. A post on JimRomenesko.com once pointed out 24 question headlines on Slate. com.

As long as you're being true to the content and not using question headlines as a cheap ploy for clicks, then save the sleeping pills for more critical issues.

Tomorrow: Repition

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