AP Announces a (Shocking!) Style Update

I just ran across this Huffington Post story about recent changes to the AP Stylebook, “the journalist’s bible,” and it feels like the black-and-white world has tilted a bit. As of this past weekend, there’s no longer a dash in the word e-mail!

Ahem. I mean email.

Even crazier, apparently I’m nearly a year behind in realizing Web site is now website.

I’m a longtime AP Style proponent due to my years as a reporter and editor for various community newspapers. These updates make sense, certainly, with the prevalence of both terms. Everyone I know has been using email and website for years, and I’ve been the odd stickler for the “proper” way.

I’m sure as the Internet (oh wait, is Internet lowercase now?) changes, and as more tech words waltz into our everyday lexicon, it makes sense for AP to adapt. Also, and this makes me feel a little less disconcerted, a recent Q and A by the editors explains email was changed to reflect its regular usage, but other e-terms will retain their hyphens. For now.

Still, all this shocks my grayscale heart. Just a little. (For the record, I was really thrown when The New York Times started running color on the front page in 1997, followed by the Wall Street Journal in 2002.)

Sure, I probably should go get a Chicago manual and study hard, since Chicago dominates the book-publishing world, but I’ve always loved AP, so instead I’ll go buy the 2011 Stylebook when it comes out in May.

Then I’ll email my friends about it. If I can remember to lose the hyphen.

About Laura Stanfill

Publisher, Forest Avenue Press
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8 Responses to AP Announces a (Shocking!) Style Update

  1. Chicago still advises “e-mail,” though they have switched over to “website.” Where I work, I try for consistency within each document (that’s about the best I can do).

    Now, for various reasons, I have to start to learn about AP style, too (I’ve always based our style guide on Chicago).

    (And, yes, that first color photo on the cover of the Times was a shock.)

    • Thanks for filling us in about Chicago’s rules. What you said about consistency within a document is very true. Now that I’ve started going with the new AP rules, should I scroll through my blog and find where I’ve used “e-mail” and “Web site” so I can update them? I don’t have the time, my blog doesn’t adhere to pure AP Style and I suppose nobody will notice any inconsistencies between posts… but I’ve considered editing like that since catching “Web site” on my About page yesterday!

  2. I fret about the inconsistencies in my blog posts, but I know I’ll never do anything about it. I’ve had the blog for over five years and have always posted at least once a week, so too much to worry about.

    I devote more attention to my fiction writing, but I know there are inconsistencies there as well. Oh, well.

    • That’s what editors are for–catching what writers miss in their own work! And yes, five years’ worth of blog posts would be way too much to go through. (I started this fall.) It’s amazing you’ve been blogging so long. Perhaps I can pick your brain for some tips sometime?

  3. Well, if you’ve checked out my blog, it’s not one of those where you pick a topic and focus on that (I like a lot of blogs like that, but I don’t happen to have one). The posts are mostly about two things: movies and writing (my writing and writing in general, including grammar). But there are also posts about technical stuff, a few personal reminiscences (my current post is about my father, for example). My stories are there, too, and I have a separate blog about Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon. My main advice is to keep at it at a reasonable pace (whatever is a reasonable pace for you). Don’t restrict what you’ll do with it. One of my favorite blogs is The Style Rookie (as I talked about here: http://u-town.com/collins/?p=1300), and it’s ostensibly about fashion, but she brings in all sorts of other things, too.

    • Thanks for the response and the link! I’ll check it out. I’ve already read your great post on your father and floated around a bit on your u-town blog. It’s great that you’ve been consistently writing posts for so long. The idea of a “reasonable pace” is very helpful.

      I haven’t read Inherent Vice, in fact, I haven’t read all of Pynchon yet, but I will someday. I’m due to reread Mason & Dixon, now that I think about it.

  4. Mason & Dixon is (IMHO) his best. I was reading it on the subway once and someone commented that he didn’t think anybody actually finished Pynchon’s books. I didn’t have the heart to tell him it was my third time reading it. 🙂

  5. I haven’t caught up on all the Pynchon reading I intended to do post-college (after reading The Crying of Lot 49 for a class). But I adored Mason & Dixon, and I think that book is one of my biggest influences on where my new novel is going. The other is Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. I’m not coming up with my own version of the language or anything, but both of those amazing books have left lasting impressions on my idea of what a writer can do when world-building.

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