I’ve said before that it is always wrong to start a sentence, a headline, or a title with a numeral. George Orwell’s most famous novel was originally published as Nineteen Eighty-Four, and it’s a (slightly) sad comment on our times that it has been reprinted as “1984”.
I complain from time to time about newspaper style-books, and I think it’s singularly inappropriate that they have been adopted by news outlets that exist only on the Web, where column-inches are virtually unlimited (at least in terms of production cost), and there is no need to conserve type. (The parsimony of the printed press has given us “kidnaper” and “thru“, among other monstrosities. I suspect it’s also to blame for “normalcy“.)
That’s why I was pleased today to see, on CNN’s Web site, the following:
Two hundred twelve people have gotten sick with salmonella since February due to poultry, the agency said Monday. The illnesses have been reported in 44 states.
JEN CHRISTENSEN AND DEBRA GOLDSCHMIDT, CNN, “WHY BACKYARD CHICKENS ARE A HEALTH RISK“, 26 JULY 2018.
CNN does seem to be using a newspaper style manual on its web site, whence the “44 states” instead of “forty-four States”, as I would have written it; but at least it starts the paragraph with words instead of numerals.