Friday, April 16, 2010

AP Style - it will be "website" and spell out state names

Update, 4/23/2014: AP now reinstitutes the spell out state names style.
Update 4/16/2010: AP confirms website, but holds off on state names. See details.
AP is set to make some major changes in the upcoming stylebook. One of the most heatedly debated over the years is the spelling of "Web site" (AP) or "website" (as much of the online community does).

I've now been told that as of May 15, AP will switch to "website." It's one of the changes we'll hear more about today at the ACES 2010 conference in Philadelphia when AP editors Darrell Christian and David Minthorn appear. Still to be seen is whether AP adopts "email."

It hasn't been overly publicized, but for some time AP has been soliciting suggestions for changes it should make vis a vis social media in the upcoming stylebook, which usually comes out in May or early June. Conforming to "website" seems by far to be the biggest suggestion/gripe.

I don't know that the Web site/website change has gotten much attention, but another change coming May 15 has gotten some discussion. AP will start spelling out all state names. It also will start using "Canada" instead of the province, after Canadian cities.

It's a case where the demands of the digital age are overtaking the previous demands for brevity. In other words, when people search they are more likely to search for the full name than the arcane AP abbreviation (or they might search for the postal abbreviation). And since most media is now global media, the thought is that people overseas will know California better than Calif. But one commenter questions this, observing: "This strikes me as a lot of churn that will not generate a net gain in clarity and explicitness that perhaps the AP is hoping for.  And applying state names only to the US certainly isn’t going to improve consistency."

Of just as much interest to me is how many publications will follow AP.  On one hand, there remains a stubborn individuality. But on the other is the push toward editing hubs and standardization. (In an ACES session I participated in Thursday, some recent grads said we need to teach more about working in such hubs, and they complained about how many papers being brought into those hubs were resisting standardization of some basic style points, such as how to refer to colleges and universities (UVA vs. Virginia, for example).)

The adoption rate is of some interest to those of us who teach the craft, since our students' future employers still seem to express some interest in their knowing style. Question these days is, whose and what style?

Some other suggestions for AP:
- change "work force" to "workforce" as many publications have. Update Feb 2012: Since this post draws so many results in Google, please note that AP has now updated to one word.
- give up "under way" and follow the lead of publications such as the Washington Post and use "underway."
- Simplify the maddening number style so that figures are used only when there is a dollar sign or similar symbol ($3 million), for a fraction greater than one (he had 9 1/2 bottles of milk), or in things like recipes. Otherwise, spell out from one through nine: he's six feet tall, three million miles, etc.

Finally, create an advisory panel to discuss such things so you get more reaction as to how it will affect members' operations. And this should be done through ACES because copy editors are your natural stakeholders, not as an offshoot of APME.

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At 4/16/10, 5:39 AM, Blogger Brian B said...

Interesting, thanks. I had heard about the state-names change (agree) and province-name dropping (disagree), but website/Web site is new and will make my life a lot better.

At 4/16/10, 9:16 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Good stuff. This will eliminate about half of the style issues I repeatedly deal with in my writing class. Thanks!

At 4/16/10, 9:59 AM, Blogger Joel Gillespie said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 4/16/10, 10:07 AM, Blogger Joel Gillespie said...

These are sensible changes. It may seem to some that this is much to do about nothing but these issues do create "long pauses" on a regular basis even for us non professionals. I think the changes for Canadian cities make sense for American readers especially. And all my kids are Canadian citizens! I'm happy to come upon your blog. Sorry about the delete just above.

At 4/16/10, 3:54 PM, Anonymous Gretchen said...

I agree with Brian B. and think dropping the provinces is a bit silly. Would you say Denver, United States? No. How did they come to this decision?

Anyway, thanks for the update -- it's nice to get a heads up before the new guide comes out.


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