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"The five most important artefacts on display include a gold cup, the kings' burial shirt, filigreed flatware, the Queen's shawl and prayerbook, among others."


"The sentence contains seven mistakes, two of which (2 and 3) overlap.

"(1) Flatware is a collective noun, referring to either utensils or dishes. If this word is correct, then five is wrong; if five is correct, then flatware is wrong or the sentence should read a set of filigreed flatware or the like.

"(2) Five … include is wrong.

"(3) Among others should be deleted. It is wrong with five and redundant with include.

"(4) Both king and queen should be lowercase or else both should be capped.

"(5) A burial shirt could not have belonged to more than one king, so kings' should be king's.

"(6) All major dictionaries give prayer book as two words.

"(7) The series should end either with flatware, the queen's shawl, and a prayer book or with flatware, and the queen's shawl and prayer book."

How about "artefact"? The answer: "The spelling artefact is not necessarily wrong; several dictionaries list it as a legitimate variant of artifact."

This quiz illustrates clearly the metaphorical magnifying glass a copy editor must hold over a manuscript. Sometimes the need to concentrate on details can ruin the pleasure of reading a story. To paraphrase Gilbert and Sullivan: A copy editor's lot is not a happy one.Watch how you phrase things:

And if you have no family or friends?

A reader reports that he was arriving in Reagan National Airport in Washington when he saw a sign that read:

"Due to enhanced security passengers must meet family or friends outside the security checkpoint."

How do you treat half a person?

From the book "Verbatim":

"Sic! Sic! Sic!

"'We treated between 70 and 71 people.' Mary Zeigler, assistant director of nursing at Coshocton County Memorial Hospital, quoted in the Columbus Dispatch, 27 March 1983." Submitted by Dorothy Brauson, Columbus, Ohio."Let Rosie hear from you by mail (1707 Summit Ave., Suite 201, Richmond, Va. 23230; by telephone, (804) 288-4327; or by e-mail, rright@styleweekly.com

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