Looking at this flyer from Massachusetts State Representative Alan Silvia only three words come to mind: Too Much Information.

On this push card Silvia gives us the long answer of who he is, what he plans to do, and includes his entire professional resume (1).  To accomplish this feat he used a small font size that is usually reserved for the fine print of legal documents.  If that was not bad enough, he filled the remaining free space with two unique personalized quotes!

One of the most important aspects of any public servant is accessibility to the public.  In order to do this, people have to know how to get in touch with the person representing them.  Instead of making this information easy to read, Silvia chose to make it so small that it almost unreadable (2).  Even the website url, arguably the most important contact information of a political campaign, is so difficult to read that you practically need a magnifying glass to find it. 

Slogans are used by political campaigns to ingrain one specific thought about the candidate in the voter's mind.  The slogan has to be consistent and used throughout the campaign for this to work. 

In what I believe is Silvia's slogan (this card makes it difficult to know for sure) there is no consistency.  On the front of the card it reads, "...Experienced, Dedicated, Leadership, A Voice for You, Not just a Few", while the back of the card reads, "Experienced, Dedicated, and Compassionate Leadership..." (3).  There is nothing worse in marketing than getting your own slogan wrong.  Silvia should have kept the slogan, "A Voice for You, Not just a Few", enlarged it, and punctuated this on both the front and back of the flyer.

While we are on the subject of these two different slogans, I need to mention the incorrect usage of ellipses, or better known as "...".  In one slogan Silvia starts with an ellipsis, while the second slogan ends with an ellipsis.  I get confused looking at both of these because I cannot find a single good reason why these ellipses are even being used at all.

As crowded as this card is, there are still opportunities to make this flyer appealing to the eye by creating white space.  However, Silvia eliminated these opportunities by ramming graphics of stars in them (4).  When designing a flyer remember that creating space will always make it easier for the reader to consume the message.

In his next election, Silvia should find a new graphic designer since this flyer proves the one he used for this one knows nothing about design.

The Good

1. Nice headshot
2. Name clear on both the front and back of the flyer
3. Election date listed

The Bad

1. Too much information
2. Inconsistent campaign slogan
3. Incorrect usage of ellipses

Overall Rating: F

6/12/2013 05:52:24 am

While we are on the subject of these two different slogans, I need to mention the incorrect usage of ellipses, or better known as "...".

Periods and commas always ALWAYS go INSIDE closing quotation marks.

"experienced, dedicated, and leadership" is jarring. "experienced" is an adjective, "dedicated" is a verb (although it could be an adjective as in "dedicated leader"), and "leadership" is a noun. All three words should use the same part of speech. Every time the reader has to stop to wonder what a writer means s/he is detracted from the message.

6/13/2013 01:24:45 am

Great snag! There were many things wrong with this flyer and I am glad you were able to highlight a few more. The slogan is so critical to a political campaign and I find it interesting that there is no consistency exhibited.

As for my use of a period outside of the quotation mark when the quote ends with an ellipsis, you are absolutely correct! However, this has been a big debate among editing professionals because the American standard is rather confusing. I deferred to the British standard even though it breaks the American standard because it is much clearer to read even though it breaks the American rule.

I found this very same question discussed at length on www.ncsu.edu/ncsu/grammar/Quotes3.html:

Question (From an N.C. State staff member): Where in heaven's name did the habit of putting a punctuation mark within a quote become policy? When quoting something that does not especially end with a period it seems unnatural to put a period within the quotation marks just because it ends a sentence. (". . . to take the food away from the cat is not always. . . ." To my way of thinking this is wrong and should be ". . . to take the food away from the cat is not always . . .". But, perhaps, I just don't see the logic.

Answer: You're right. American English is consistent in this punctuation policy. You can look for relief in British publications, which follow the rule you find more logical.

You are not alone in objecting to the American convention. A whole group of kindred spirits is lurking on one of the links from the N.C. State Online Writing Lab homepage. The "Frequently Asked Questions" link (on the bulleted list at the bottom of the page or directly at http://www.rt66.com/ telp/styfaq1.htm#q1) puts this question to a vote of copyeditors. The American system wins out, but the British system has surprising support. The analysis covers the reasons for the opinions.

7/5/2023 12:45:26 pm

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