• Patricia Drury

[Update: Geez louise! The word in question was actually “fuck,” which is a strikingly different word than “hell”—my apologies for the sloppiness. Still, as it turns out, there are few circumstances under which you can actually use the word “hell” in the Times. Read on.]

I hadn’t realized how fervently the New York Times’ style guide counsels against profanity until I read the following, from a remembrance of Steve Jobs:

The satirical newspaper The Onion underscored this point nicely in its news story on Mr. Jobs’s death. The headline, modified here to replace an expletive, said: “Last American Who Knew What the Heck He Was Doing Dies.”

You can’t say “hell” in the New York Times? Apparently not. Earlier this year in a sidebar, the paper excerpted some of its guidelines on profanity: