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Copywriting for the Web (and Elsewhere): Visit the Rib Zone

Sometimes even the smallest punctuation marks can make a big difference when writing copy for the web or elsewhere.

Over the summer, I had the pleasure of visiting a small town in the Kootenay Rockies and happened upon this sign outside the local grocery store:


Visit the rib zone


I couldn’t help but pause to consider the fresh back and pork side ribs – with “fresh” enclosed in quotation marks.

The quotation marks are a problem. They suggest the term fresh is being used in an unusual or ironic way. To the reader, it suggests the ribs aren’t fresh in the usual sense of the word, which is not what you want when marketing meat!

The Chicago Manual of Style calls these types of quotation marks “scare quotes.“ When used, they imply, “This is not my term” or “This is not how the term is usually applied.”

The grocery store didn’t mean to suggest their ribs weren’t fresh. They just wanted to highlight the term. In this case, the visual contrast of the green and purple markers was probably sufficient.

Have you ever used scare quotes in your writing or marketing efforts? Was it indeed scary?



Posted: September 5, 2012 in: Content Marketing

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