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Archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of his team's discovery of a 3.2

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Archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of his team's discovery of a 3.2  [#permalink]

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Archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of his team's discovery of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton in his award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind.

(A) Archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of his team's discovery of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton in his award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind.

(B) In his award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind, archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of the discovery by his team of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton.

(C) Writing the award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind, archaeologist Donald Johanson chronicled the discovery of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton by his team.

(D) The discovery of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton was chronicled in the award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind, being written by the archaeologist Donald Johanson.

(E) In his award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind, archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of his team's discovery of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton.

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Originally posted by bagdbmba on 22 Sep 2013, 23:36.
Last edited by hazelnut on 11 Apr 2018, 19:31, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of his team's discovery of a 3.2  [#permalink]

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New post 01 Feb 2017, 14:36
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ravi19012015 wrote:
He wrote X in Y. Why is (A) wrong?


A prepositional phrase may be used as a noun modifier or a verb modifier. As a noun modifier, it refers to the noun it touches, and as a verb modifier, it refers to the verb of the associated clause (placement of a verb modifier is flexible - it may be placed at the beginning, at the end or in the middle of the clause). In order to avoid ambiguity, when such a prepositional phrase is used a verb modifier, it is preferable to shift the modifier away from any noun that it may refer to.

In option A the prepositional phrase modifier "in his award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind" is used as verb modifier to refer to the verb "wrote". So it is preferable to shift it away from the noun "skeleton". Otherwise an ambiguity may arise whether it refers to the verb " wrote" or to the noun " skeleton" (the latter wrongly implying that the skeleton is in the book).
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Re: Archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of his team's discovery of a 3.2  [#permalink]

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New post 22 Sep 2013, 23:53
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bagdbmba wrote:
1.Archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of his team's discovery of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton in his award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind.

A.Archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of his team's discovery of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton in his award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind.

B.In his award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind, archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of the discovery by his team of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton.

C.Writing the award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind, archaeologist Donald Johanson chronicled the discovery of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton by his team.

D.The discovery of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton was chronicled in the award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind, being written by the archaeologist Donald Johanson.

E.In his award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind, archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of his team's discovery of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton.


A.Archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of his team's discovery of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton in his award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind.
This choice illogically suggests that the discovery took place in the book.

B.In his award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind, archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of the discovery by his team of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton.
Team of 3.2 million skeleton. Try to place prep. phrases close to the known it modifies.

C.Writing the award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind, archaeologist Donald Johanson chronicled the discovery of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton by his team.
writings and chronicle provide the same meaning and hence provide a case of redundancy.

D.The discovery of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton was chronicled in the award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind, being written by the archaeologist Donald Johanson.
The same error is present here also. Moreover, this choice also uses passive, which generally should be avoided.

E is correct. All the issues have been resolved.

Good question.
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Re: Archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of his team's discovery of a 3.2  [#permalink]

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Re: Archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of his team's discovery of a 3.2  [#permalink]

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New post 26 Sep 2013, 00:17
Thanks marcab but I'm not able to understand why A is wrong as it is in the form of X of Y - 'wrote of discovery of a skeleton..in the book...'!! Heence it basically means wrote of his team's discovery in the book I guess...!

@ e-GMAT - Could you please explain this question and you've a PM on this..!
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Re: Archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of his team's discovery of a 3.2  [#permalink]

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New post 26 Sep 2013, 01:05
bagdbmba wrote:
Thanks marcab but I'm not able to understand why A is wrong as it is in the form of X of Y - 'wrote of discovery of a skeleton..in the book...'!! Heence it basically means wrote of his team's discovery in the book I guess...!



IMO option A is wrong because of modifier placement error(as said by MARCAB)

Archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of his team's discovery of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton in his award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind.

IT SEEMS THAT SKELETON was in his award winning book=>this is illogical.
moreover i can say that in the absence of option E this could be the best choice.
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Re: Archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of his team's discovery of a 3.2  [#permalink]

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New post 26 Sep 2013, 01:32
It is clear that the pattern in E is better than that in A.

but remember, this pattern in A is inferior, not incorrect. This means the pattern in A can appear in the official answer in other sc problems when there is no better choice.

this situation is called correct but not prefered
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Re: Archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of his team's discovery of a 3.2  [#permalink]

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New post 10 Sep 2014, 09:00
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A similar Official question is : the-nephew-of-pliny-the-elder-wrote-the-only-eyewitness-85872.html

Verbal 2nd Edition Question # 109.

The rule which I am following is "in his award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind." should modify the verb - "wrote " so it should be an adverbial modifier and should come before and should make sense with the verb wrote.

Archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of his team's discovery of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton in his award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind.

A.Archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of his team's discovery of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton in his award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind. - It is incorrect because of the above reason

B.In his award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind, archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of the discovery by his team of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton.
Not concise

C.Writing the award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind, archaeologist Donald Johanson chronicled the discovery of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton by his team.
Writing sounds as if DJ is writing the book now.

D.The discovery of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton was chronicled in the award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind, being written by the archaeologist Donald Johanson.
DJ is not writing the book as we speak.

E.In his award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind, archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of his team's discovery of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton - Correct.
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Re: Archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of his team's discovery of a 3.2  [#permalink]

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New post 11 Sep 2014, 10:28
A looks good.
Archaeologist DJ wrote of X in his Y
B seems wordy. Writing the Y, archaeologist DJ "chronicled" the discovery of X.
C changes the meaning I think. DJ is writing the book and chronicled the discovery? As opposed to "wrote" that is used in other choices.
Eliminate D because there are better ways to send meaning without using "being"
Looking at E, I notice B is wordy because it uses "of the discovery by his team of..." as opposed to "of his team's discovery..." in E.

So A and E left.
I guess E is preferable for the reasons you guys stated.
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Re: Archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of his team's discovery of a 3.2  [#permalink]

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New post 19 Sep 2014, 12:56
but isn't E ambiguous?

In his (whose) award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind, archaeologist Donald Johanson (this might be something from the book, and Donald Johanson is a character who is an archaeologist) wrote of his team's discovery of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton
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Re: Archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of his team's discovery of a 3.2  [#permalink]

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New post 01 Feb 2017, 11:12
He wrote X in Y. Why is (A) wrong?
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Re: Archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of his team's discovery of a 3.2  [#permalink]

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New post 01 Feb 2017, 19:49
sayantanc2k wrote:
ravi19012015 wrote:
He wrote X in Y. Why is (A) wrong?


A prepositional phrase may be used as a noun modifier or a verb modifier. As a noun modifier, it refers to the noun it touches, and as a verb modifier, it refers to the verb of the associated clause (placement of a verb modifier is flexible - it may be placed at the beginning, at the end or in the middle of the clause). In order to avoid ambiguity, when such a prepositional phrase is used a verb modifier, it is preferable to shift the modifier away from any noun that it may refer to.

In option A the prepositional phrase modifier "in his award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind" is used as verb modifier to refer to the verb "wrote". So it is preferable to shift it away from the noun "skeleton". Otherwise an ambiguity may arise whether it refers to the verb " wrote" or to the noun " skeleton" (the latter wrongly implying that the skeleton is in the book).


This one is important. Can result into silly mistakes. I learnt it earlier, but while hastily solving the questions, I miss this point.
Important to focus on Meaning of the sentence.
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Re: Archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of his team's discovery of a 3.2  [#permalink]

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New post 03 Feb 2017, 16:33
sayantanc2k wrote:
ravi19012015 wrote:
He wrote X in Y. Why is (A) wrong?


A prepositional phrase may be used as a noun modifier or a verb modifier. As a noun modifier, it refers to the noun it touches, and as a verb modifier, it refers to the verb of the associated clause (placement of a verb modifier is flexible - it may be placed at the beginning, at the end or in the middle of the clause). In order to avoid ambiguity, when such a prepositional phrase is used a verb modifier, it is preferable to shift the modifier away from any noun that it may refer to.

In option A the prepositional phrase modifier "in his award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind" is used as verb modifier to refer to the verb "wrote". So it is preferable to shift it away from the noun "skeleton". Otherwise an ambiguity may arise whether it refers to the verb " wrote" or to the noun " skeleton" (the latter wrongly implying that the skeleton is in the book).


Hi Sayant,
May I ask, what is the best way to perform an error analysis when reading a sentence while fatigued. Often the brain doesn't pick up on these subtle clues since we're accustomed to making sense of whatever we are told. Are there are signals for noun vs verb modifiers.

For instance parallelism markers are: And, or, either or etc... Are there words that help us spot these modifiers quickly and help differentiate between verb vs noun modifiers. Sorry brain very tired! :) Would appreciate some insight :) :)
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Re: Archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of his team's discovery of a 3.2  [#permalink]

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New post 04 Feb 2017, 07:01
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jkolachi wrote:
sayantanc2k wrote:
ravi19012015 wrote:
He wrote X in Y. Why is (A) wrong?


A prepositional phrase may be used as a noun modifier or a verb modifier. As a noun modifier, it refers to the noun it touches, and as a verb modifier, it refers to the verb of the associated clause (placement of a verb modifier is flexible - it may be placed at the beginning, at the end or in the middle of the clause). In order to avoid ambiguity, when such a prepositional phrase is used a verb modifier, it is preferable to shift the modifier away from any noun that it may refer to.

In option A the prepositional phrase modifier "in his award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind" is used as verb modifier to refer to the verb "wrote". So it is preferable to shift it away from the noun "skeleton". Otherwise an ambiguity may arise whether it refers to the verb " wrote" or to the noun " skeleton" (the latter wrongly implying that the skeleton is in the book).


Hi Sayant,
May I ask, what is the best way to perform an error analysis when reading a sentence while fatigued. Often the brain doesn't pick up on these subtle clues since we're accustomed to making sense of whatever we are told. Are there are signals for noun vs verb modifiers.

For instance parallelism markers are: And, or, either or etc... Are there words that help us spot these modifiers quickly and help differentiate between verb vs noun modifiers. Sorry brain very tired! :) Would appreciate some insight :) :)


First let me tell you my understanding: Unlike the muscles of our body, the brain does not get fatigued (though the eyes may). Actually the resistance of the mind to continue with the work gives us the illusion of brain-tiredness. Training the mind may help overcome this issue to some extent. (Consider a teenager playing hours of computer games (requiring very high levels of brain work) without feeling tired, but when asked to do maths, he gets tired quite early.)

Coming to your query, all verb modifiers act as adverbs (i.e. they say something more about the action), and all noun modifiers act as adjectives (i.e. they say something more about the person or thing). If you can identify an adverb and an adjective, you should be able identify a verb modifier and a noun modifier as well - the concept is the same.
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Re: Archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of his team's discovery of a 3.2  [#permalink]

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Archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of his team's discovery of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton in his award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind.

A. Archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of his team's discovery of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton in his award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind. ….. The misplaced word order leads to the absurd meaning that the discovery happened just in the said book.

B. In his award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind, archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of the discovery by his team of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton. -- The team is described as something of a skeleton.

C. Writing the award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind, archaeologist Donald Johanson chronicled the discovery of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton by his team… The word 'chronicled' implies a sequential timeline, but the text talks about only dating the discovery. This is a gross altered intent.

D. The discovery of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton was chronicled in the award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind, being written by the archaeologist Donald Johanson. ---- Same error as in C.

E. In his award-winning, book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind, archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of his team's discovery of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton.--- The correct answer. The introductory adverbial modifier correctly modifies the following clause in its entirety namely -- the archeologist's action of writing -- as Sayantan has abundantly made clear.
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New post 21 Nov 2017, 18:59
B is an important pattern in gmat b/c in B, the long phrase distorts the original meaning of the sentence.
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Archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of his team's discovery of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton in his award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind.
1. Archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of his team's discovery of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton in his award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind.

A. Archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of his team's discovery of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton in his award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind.

B.In his award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind, archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of the discovery by his team of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton.

C.Writing the award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind, archaeologist Donald Johanson chronicled the discovery of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton by his team.

D.The discovery of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton was chronicled in the award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind, being written by the archaeologist Donald Johanson.

E.In his award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind, archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of his team's discovery of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton.
I wish to withdraw my comment about this post a little above; this topic is debatable, I feel.

1. The thumb rule for the use of a colon is that there is should be an independent clause that is complete in its meaning before the use of a colon. However, in choices B, C, and E (E is the official answer), there are only phrases.
2. A is wrong because of the misplacement of the skeleton before the award-winning book, giving a twist that the skeleton was discovered in his book.
3. D is wrong for using the participle 'being written' as if the book is just being written now and is yet to be published.

Any clarifications?
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Archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of his team's discovery of a 3.2  [#permalink]

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New post 08 Jan 2019, 04:22
daagh wrote:
Archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of his team's discovery of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton in his award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind.
1. Archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of his team's discovery of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton in his award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind.

A. Archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of his team's discovery of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton in his award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind.

B.In his award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind, archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of the discovery by his team of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton.

C.Writing the award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind, archaeologist Donald Johanson chronicled the discovery of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton by his team.

D.The discovery of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton was chronicled in the award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind, being written by the archaeologist Donald Johanson.

E.In his award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind, archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of his team's discovery of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton.
I wish to withdraw my comment about this post a little above; this topic is debatable, I feel.

1. The thumb rule for the use of a colon is that there is should be an independent clause that is complete in its meaning before the use of a colon. However, in choices B, C, and E (E is the official answer), there are only phrases.
2. A is wrong because of the misplacement of the skeleton before the award-winning book, giving a twist that the skeleton was discovered in his book.
3. D is wrong for using the participle 'being written' as if the book is just being written now and is yet to be published.

Any clarifications?


As stated by daagh in the above post, the part of the sentence before a colon(:) should be a complete sentence. However, the OA - E violates this rule.

AjiteshArun , GMATNinja , MagooshExpert , GMATGuruNY , VeritasPrepBrian , MartyMurray , DmitryFarber , egmat , ccooley , generis , RonPurewal , other experts - please enlighten
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Archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of his team's discovery of a 3.2  [#permalink]

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New post 08 Jan 2019, 11:09
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Skywalker18 wrote:
daagh wrote:
Archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of his team's discovery of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton in his award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind.
1. Archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of his team's discovery of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton in his award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind.

A. Archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of his team's discovery of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton in his award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind.

B.In his award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind, archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of the discovery by his team of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton.

C.Writing the award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind, archaeologist Donald Johanson chronicled the discovery of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton by his team.

D.The discovery of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton was chronicled in the award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind, being written by the archaeologist Donald Johanson.

E.In his award-winning book Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind, archaeologist Donald Johanson wrote of his team's discovery of a 3.2 million-year-old skeleton.
I wish to withdraw my comment about this post a little above; this topic is debatable, I feel.

1. The thumb rule for the use of a colon is that there is should be an independent clause that is complete in its meaning before the use of a colon. However, in choices B, C, and E (E is the official answer), there are only phrases.
2. A is wrong because of the misplacement of the skeleton before the award-winning book, giving a twist that the skeleton was discovered in his book.
3. D is wrong for using the participle 'being written' as if the book is just being written now and is yet to be published.

Any clarifications?


As stated by daagh in the above post, the part of the sentence before a colon(:) should be a complete sentence. However, the OA - E violates this rule.

AjiteshArun , GMATNinja , MagooshExpert , GMATGuruNY , VeritasPrepBrian , MartyMurray , DmitryFarber , egmat , ccooley , generis , RonPurewal , other experts - please enlighten

skywalker18 , I am beginning to believe that you might be an editor in disguise. :) You have very keen eyes.

In English, the rule about colons is suspended for titles.

The GMAT will replicate a title faithfully, such as S. Sandberg's Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. Do not worry about the title. Just be concerned about whether the titled work (book, article, music piece) is positioned or modified correctly.

I have not surveyed OG questions in regard to the colon rule that I follow as an editor (namely, what precedes the colon must be an independent clause), but the rule seems to hold on the GMAT.

Ron Purewal says HERE that there are two instances in which a colon may be used, and that in both, what precedes the colon must be an independent clause.

Former Grockit expert Jordan Schonig concurs HERE.

Again, the rule is suspended for titles.

The situation is similar to that in journalism, in which catchy headlines do not have to be grammatically correct. Even in the very best of publications, headline writers often use colons incorrectly. The use is accepted. Titles and headlines are ways to grab attention.

Hope that helps.
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