Can you spot anything wrong in this sentence?

“Also on the front page, just below the Citizen’s masthead, the paper’s publishers added the phrase ‘Belmont’s Only Prize-Winning Newspaper,’ a thinly veiled dig at their hometown competitor, The Belmont Herald.”

The logo at the top of a newspaper’s front page is not a masthead. The masthead, usually found in the editorial section, is a list of the publication’s staff members, along with policy statements, contact information, and the like.

So what’s the right name for the front-page logo? It’s a nameplate. Other terms journalists use are banner and flag.

Several dictionaries I consulted don’t bother with this distinction. They contend that the word masthead means both the logo and the informational listing. But using the same term for both is ambiguous and potentially confusing. Here is still more evidence that many dictionaries have become too permissive. Instead of giving us guidance, they often repeat and perpetuate common misuses.

So please keep this distinction straight. It’s especially important if print newspapers and magazines continue to exist — as we can only hope they do!

[Ed Note: For more than three decades, Don Hauptman was an award-winning independent direct-response copywriter and creative consultant. He is author of The Versatile Freelancer, an e-book that shows writers and other creative professionals how to diversify their careers into speaking, consulting, training, and critiquing.]

Don Hauptman was an award-winning independent direct-response copywriter and creative consultant for more than 30 years. He may be best known for his headline “Speak Spanish [French, German, etc.] Like a Diplomat!” This familiar series of ads sold spectacular numbers of recorded foreign language lessons for Audio-Forum, generating revenues that total in the tens of millions of dollars. In the process, the ad achieved the status of an industry classic. Don’s work is mentioned in three major college advertising textbooks, and examples of his promotions are cited in the books Million Dollar Mailings (1992) and World's Greatest Direct Mail Sales Letters (1996). In a column in Advertising Age, his name was included in a short list of direct-marketing “superstars.” He has a parallel career as a writer on language and wordplay. His celebration of spoonerisms, Cruel and Unusual Puns (Dell, 1991), received rave reviews and quickly went into a second printing. His second book was Acronymania (Dell, 1993). Recently, Don retired from full-time copywriting in order to focus on other interests, including his passion for “recreational linguistics.” He is at work on a new book in that genre. He is a regular contributor to the magazine Word Ways and writes “The Language Perfectionist,” a weekly column on grammar and usage, for Early to Rise. Don is author of The Versatile Freelancer,an e-book from American Writers and Artists, Inc. (AWAI) that shows copywriters – and almost anyone – how to diversify their careers into consulting, training, critiquing, and speaking.

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