When Did the AP Stylebook Become Cutting Edge?
My prize from the silent auction at this year’s American Copy Editors Society annual conference was a 1970 Associated Press Stylebook. It’s 52 pages, divided into 11 sections.
Some might say the Stylebook should have stopped there, but with a print edition topping 500 pages, the book is proving to be more relevant and useful than ever. I prefer my AP Stylebook online for easy searching.
The old book tells me that had AP not evolved in its thinking, it would still be insisting that calling someone red-headed is a comment on the color of the head and not the hair. Today, AP Stylebook says we can have a redheaded person, and it also tells us redhead can describe “a North American diving duck.”
In its newest edition, it also provides guidance on words we never considered a short time ago, including selfie, emoji and dis, dissing and dissed. While there is always uproar when a newly coined term is added to a major dictionary, there are fewer lamentations about the end of civilization when a word is added to the AP Stylebook. Perhaps the recent more than/over dustup kept those people busy. But I think people understand the AP Stylebook is a usage guide; it’s a source we can turn to to help us spell and use words that are in fashion.
Dis, dissing dissed is listed without comment; same with selfie. Emoji is explained as:
Symbols including cartoon faces, hand gestures, food and animals, often used on mobile devices such as smartphones. They can be used instead of words or as illustrations in text messages and in social media.
Oxford Dictionaries online added definitions for selfie and emoji in August, but there are few other trusted sources. That means the AP Stylebook’s inclusion of these terms makes the staid institution somewhat cutting edge.
I’m going to enjoy flipping through the 1970 version, perhaps filling the entire time of a bus-ride home. But the sic entry notwithstanding, I’m also glad to have ready access to a version that gives me thoughtful opinions on how to spell and use even trendy words.