AP Stylebook Changes



Do you E-mail or email?

E-mail is out, email is in! Yes, a few weeks ago the editors of the AP Stylebook announced several changes. This may not seem important to some, but to anyone who has ever studied journalism, the AP Stylebook is the “gospel” of style and usage for much of the news media. And per the AP Stylebook, “e-mail” now has been replaced by “email.” 

The move follows the AP Stylebook’s decision to change “Web site” to “website” last year. Other changes are:
• Cellphone and smartphone are now one word (no longer cell phone and smart phone)
• Handheld is a noun and hand-held is an adjective
• The acronym of CPR no longer has to be clarified

One might ask, who cares? Trust me, lots of people do. And it can be a little confusing sometimes! Just consider some of the “Ask the Editor” questions on www.apstylebook.com. The following are some examples:

Q. What’s the appropriate punctuation and style to use: 
– “Visit our website www.xxxxx.xxx” 
– “Visit our website: www.xxxxx.xxx”
– “Visit our website, www.xxxxx.xxx”? – from Baton Rouge, La. on Thu, Apr 28, 2011

A. The second example if it’s a full sentence, with a period at the end. The third if you’re giving the address in the text, but add a comma after the last digit in the address.

Q. Webster’s New World refers to someone who spies on others for gratification to be a Peeping Tom. Does AP have a preference on this reference? – from Lake Charles, La. on Wed, Apr 27, 2011

A. The term is used in AP stories, often spelled peeping Tom.

Q. In the expression, “if your home is underwater financially” — meaning you owe more on it than it is worth– is underwater one word or two, according to the AP? – from Washington on Tue, Apr 26, 2011

A. It’s underwater (one word).

Q. Is it house sitter/pet sitter, as in baby sitter, or hyphenated? – from Illinois on Mon, Apr 25, 2011

A. In the absence of a formal ruling, I’d go with the two-word spellings to conform to the Stylebook’s baby sitter.

The stylebook is updated annually by Associated Press editors. In 2008, 200 new entries were added, including words and phrases like “podcast,” “text messaging,” “social networking” and “high-definition.” The 2009 edition added the entries “Twitter,” “texting” and “baba ghanoush” (an Arab dish of eggplant mashed and mixed with various seasonings). The 2010 edition included dozens of separate entries on such terms as “app,” “blogs,” “click-throughs,” “friend” and “unfriend” (no hyphen in the latter), “metadata,” “RSS,” “search engine optimization,” “trending,” “widget” and “wiki.”

Can you imagine the English language in year 3,000? Language is a living organism and is evolving at an unbelievable rate. With the blending of religions and cultures and the arrival of better technologies, the core of the language is forever changing. Abbreviated versions of words and new slang are becoming commonly accepted. While some of this is likely a trend, with an emphasis on speed and transfer of data, many of these words will be eternal additions to dialect. And the AP Stylebook is continually evolving to take this into account. 

The AP Stylebook in its modern form started in 1953. While nearly 2 million copies of the AP Stylebook have been distributed since 1977 (the year I graduated from journalism school), today it’s developing an online presence with profiles on social media platforms like Twitter (@APStylebook) and Facebook.