Sunday, July 19, 2009

AP style updates - AA and GED

AP has added a couple of entries to its stylebook (they're there if you have the online version; you'll have to write them into your hard copy):

GED: A trademark abbreviation for General Educational Development Tests, a battery of five exams designed by the American Council on Education to measure high school equivalency. GED should be used as an adjective, not as a noun. Those passing the tests earn a GED diploma or certificate, not a GED.

Alcoholics Anonymous: AA is acceptable on second reference. Except for legal or official references, in accordance with the organization's policy use only first names and first initials of last names when identifying members in stories. Joe S. or Jane D.

I'm especially happy to see the GED one, for it settles lots of disputes about what GED means (I've heard "general equivalency degree" and "general education degree" among others during my years in newsrooms.) However, I think the AP is spitting in the wind by proscribing the use of GED as a noun (though to be intellectually honest, it generally has to do so once it acknowledges something is a trademark). The use of GED as a noun ("he has a GED") is so ingrained in our language, I can't imagine most editors objecting.

As forAA, it does open some interesting discussion. For instance, say another organization came along and wanted its members identified only by last names. Would we do it? Well, possibly if we judged the organization to be "pure" enough in spirit and objective (c'mon, folks, journalists have a long history of bending the rules based on those kinds of judgments). But that then starts us toward the discussion on where the line is and who draws it.

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